Unilever profit up in quarter, year

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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LONDON — For the full-year 2008, Unilever P.L.C. posted a net profit of €5,285 million ($6,779 million), up 28% from €4,136 million during 2007.

Sales for the year were €40,523 million ($51,978 million), up 1% from €40,187 million during 2007.

The company said there was strong broad-based growth of 7% across all categories, and commodity costs increased by €2.7 billion. Pricing and savings covered the increases. The company portfolio was reshaped through disposals, which included Lawry’s and Bertolli olive oil, as well as the acquisition of Inmarko ice cream. As a whole, the company had underlying sales growth of 7.4%, and earnings per share were up 32% in the year.

"In 2008 the business made further solid progress," said Paul Polman, chief executive officer. "We achieved top-line growth ahead of our target range and faced with unprecedented input costs pressures protected profit by early pricing action and savings programs. The changes already made over the past few years have strengthened the business and leave us well placed to meet the challenges ahead."

For the fourth quarter, Unilever posted a net profit of €1,189 million ($1,525 million), up 51% from €787 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

Sales for the quarter were €10,151 million ($13,022 million), up 3% from €9,890 million during the same quarter of 2007.

"Given the current economic uncertainty, I believe it would be inappropriate at this stage to provide an outlook specifically for 2009 or to reaffirm the 2010 targets," Mr. Polman said. "That said, I am confident in the underlying strength of the business and over the longer term expect that we will deliver very competitive levels of growth and margin improvement."

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