ZURICH, July 14 (Reuters) - Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli said first-half sales rose 17.4 percent following the purchase of U.S. rival Russel Stover, missing expectations, as it backed its sales targets for the full year.
The Kilchberg, Switzerland-based firm said sales for the first six months stood at 1.409 billion Swiss francs ($1.48 billion) from 1.2 billion year-ago, which is shy of a Reuters poll average of 1.422 billion.
Lindt & Spruengli said the strong Swiss currency as well as high prices of raw materials pose major challenges.
"Nevertheless, Lindt & Spruengli is maintaining its 6 percent to 8 percent target for medium to long-term annual organic growth in this financial year," the company said.
Once the integration of Russell Stover is completed, Lindt & Spruengli said it would once again target an increase in the margin on earnings before interest and tax of 20 to 40 basis points. ($1 = 0.9503 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Katharina Bart; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)