Nestle SA, the world's biggest food group, met forecasts with nine-month organic sales growth of 3.6 percent after a disappointing first-half 3.5 percent, and upped its share buyback.
Nestle said its solid performance had allowed it to increase its 2009 share buyback to 7 billion Swiss francs ($6.9 billion) from 4 billion francs, completing its current 25 billion programme earlier than expected.
Sales were 79.5 billion francs. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast underlying sales growth, which strips out currency effects and acquisitions, of 3.6 percent on total sales of 80.3 billion Swiss francs.
The maker of Nescafe coffee, KitKat chocolate bars and Maggi soup reported volume growth strengthened slightly to 1 percent, compared with analysts' forecasts for 0.9 percent, while sales took a 5.2 percent hit from foreign exchange effects.
Nestle repeated its full-year outlook for volume-driven organic sales acceleration after it dropped its previous target of at least approaching 5 percent in August.
Nestle did not comment on whether it will exercise an option to sell its 52 percent Alcon stake to Novartis, nor on whether it may enter the fray for Britain's Cadbury Plc, pursued by Kraft Foods Inc.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mike Nesbit)