Star brands boost profits at Unilever
CONSUMER goods giant Unilever reported a rise in third-quarter pre-tax profits buoyed by its everyday goods Flora margarine and Dove soap and treats such as Magnum ice cream. Pre-tax profits were 5.64 billion (£4.5billion), a rise of 37 per cent. Underlying sales rose 8.3 per cent, lifted by cost-savings programmes and price increases.
A spokesman for the AngloDutch company said: “People always need to wash and eat.”
He added: “The company’s growth has largely been seen in emerging markets rather than western Europe and North America.”
Chief executive Patrick Cescau said: “This year we now expect to deliver underlying sales growth well in excess of our long-term target range of 3 to 5 per cent.”
He added: “We have strengthened our businesses in a tough environment. Despite the price rises needed in the light of unprecedented cost increases, our volumes are holding up.”
Analysts remain concerned about Unilever’s marketing strategy and trading in western Europe, its biggest market.
Unilever has struggled to match European food rivals Nestlé and Danone’s 2008 sales targets of 8 per cent and between 8 per cent and 10 per cent.
Unilever said price increases and cost savings meant it had more than offset commodity cost increases of almost 2billion in the first nine months of the year.
Its other brands include Sunsilk shampoo, Knorr soups and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Analyst Graham Jones at Panmure Gordon said consumers had bought Unilever brands, despite steep food inflation.
He added: “People should see an end to steep food inflation by 2009 on some products.
The shares were down 7p to 1336p.
TREAT: Eva Longoria helps to sell Magnum