Unilever profit down in quarter, year

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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LONDON — For the full-year 2007, Unilever P.L.C. posted a net profit of €4,136 million, ($5,987 million) down 18% from €5,015 million during 2006. These results also include a €1.2 billion profit on the disposal of frozen foods businesses in Europe during the fourth quarter of 2006.

Sales for the year were €40,187 million ($58,174 million), up 1% from €39,642 million during 2006.

The company said all categories grew well in 2007 and Europe had underlying improvement with 2.8% growth in the year. Unilever also said commodity cost increases had an impact of 2.2 percentage points of sales for the year, but the company was able to overcome this through savings programs and pricing actions. As a whole, the company has underlying sales growth of 5.5%, an operating margin of 13.1% and earnings per share from continuing operations up 12% in the year.

For the fourth quarter, Unilever posted a net profit of €787 million ($1,139 million) down 63% from €2,100 million during the same quarter of the previous year. These results also include the disposal profit.

Sales for the quarter were €9,890 million ($14,313 million), up 2% from €9,727 million during the same quarter of 2006.

"The fourth quarter was a strong finish to a good year," said Patrick Cescau, group chief executive. "2007 marks the third successive year of accelerating sales growth and came with an underlying improvement in margin. This is clear evidence that our strategy of focusing resources on faster growing and profitable segments is succeeding.

"The re-shaping of the business and the acceleration of our change program are bringing real benefits. They make Unilever a more flexible and resilient company better placed to meet the challenges of operating in a tougher economic and cost environment."

Mr. Cescau also said the company is confident it will achieve its 2010 goals of an operating margin in excess of 15% and consistent, competitive growth. He said in 2008, the company anticipates underlying sales growth near the upper end of the 3% to 5% range along with further underlying improvement in operating margin.

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