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IFF forecasts glum 2024; takes $2.6 billion impairment charge on nourish segment

(Reuters) - International Flavors & Fragrances on Tuesday forecast annual sales below market expectations and took a $2.6 billion non-cash impairment charge on its nourish segment in the fourth quarter, as the company grapples with weak demand in its food ingredients unit.

IFF's shares fell about 7% in extended trade as it also cut its quarterly dividend by about half to 40 cents per share, in an attempt to save cash.

Fourth-quarter net loss attributable to IFF shareholders was $2.61 billion, or $10.21 per share, compared with a loss of $25 million, or 10 cents, a year ago.

A tough macroeconomic environment has led consumer goods companies to destock inventory, hurting demand for IFF's food ingredients and flavor solutions. IFF said it expects volumes for 2024 in the range of flat to a decline of 3%.

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IFF's nourish segment constituted 52.8% of the company's consolidated net sales for 2023, providing ingredients and flavor solutions for food and beverage items in categories such as dairy, bakery and snacks.

Net sales in the unit fell 11.6% in the reported quarter. IFF expects full-year sales between $10.8 billion and $11.1 billion, below the LSEG estimate of $11.41 billion.

The company - which named J. Erik Fyrwald as CEO in January - has divested parts of its portfolio, including its Savory Solutions and cosmetic ingredients units, in a bid to focus on higher-margin businesses.

With demand weakening in its biggest segment, IFF said it also expects pricing in 2024 to decline 2.5%, as competition from peers also weighs.

Excluding items, IFF reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of 72 cents, missing estimates of 75 cents per share.

The company's net sales fell 5% to $2.70 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, in line with Street expectations.

(Reporting by Juveria Tabassum; Editing by Alan Barona)