Unilever Profit Falls, Tough Competition Ahead

Profit down 31% for 2009

Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever reported a 24% fall in fourth quarter net profit on Feb. 4 and predicted tough competition and consumer spending constraints in the current year.

The company said net earnings in the final three months of 2009 came to 906 million euros ($US1.27 billion) as lower prices offset increased volumes.

Sales were down 4.8% from a year earlier to 9.66 billion euros.

Operating profit tumbled 33% to 972 million euros although the same year-earlier period included exceptional gains of 611 million euros.

For all of 2009, net profit was down 31% to 3.66 billion euros on sales of 39.82 billion euros, down 1.7%.

Chief executive Paul Polman said the company "made good progress in challenging market conditions. Our market share improvements were broad-based and improved throughout the year.

"We have further strengthened our leading positions in developing and emerging markets and made encouraging progress in re-establishing volume growth in Western Europe," Polman said.

"We expect continued pressure on consumer spending power and heightened levels of competitive activity in 2010."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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