Unilever on Feb. 5 reported a 51% rise in net earnings in the fourth quarter of 2008 but cancelled 2010 growth targets due to uncertainty. "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," chief executive officer Paul Polman said.
The company, which includes such brand names as Lipton tea, Dove soap and Magnum ice cream, said its net profit for the fourth quarter of 2008 amounted to 1.2 billion euros. Net earnings for the full year rose by 28% to 5.3 billion euros.
The performance was supported partly by the sale of assets worth 1.6 billion euros, including the Boursin cheese brand and the Bertolli olive oil and vinegar business.
As commodity costs increased by 2.7 billion euros, sales volumes dropped but values grew by 7.3% in the fourth quarter and 7.4% for the full year, partly in response to price increases.
Sales for the quarter rose three percent to 10.2 billion euros, and for the year by one percent to 40.5 billion euros.
Unilever said it had managed to save 1.1 billion euros as a result of "supply chain and organizational efficiencies."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009