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November 6, 2009

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Unilever's profit down but sales improve

UNILEVER NV, maker of Dove soaps and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, said yesterday net profit fell 36 percent for the third quarter, mostly because earnings in the same period a year ago benefited from the sale of operations.

The consumer goods giant made 1.05 billion euros (US$1.56 billion), down from 1.64 billion euros in the same period last year, when Unilever booked a 487-million-euro gain on the sale of its seasonings businesses.

Revenues were down 1.9 percent to 10.2 billion euros.

Despite the fall in profit, Chief Executive Paul Polman said the results showed "good progress across all regions and the majority of countries and categories" when compared with the second quarter.

During the global recession the company was forced to cut prices and sacrifice margin to keep customers. However, Unilever said its margins improved in the third quarter from the second quarter.

But Polman said Unilever is planning on a "long, slow recovery and we should plan our business accordingly."

Unilever said its sales volumes were higher and sales would grow 3.4 percent from a year ago on an "underlying" basis - a nonstandard measure that compares only operations owned in both years and strips out currency effects.


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