Unilever Posts 28% Annual Profits Rise

09 February 2009

LONDON: Unilever posted an annual profit of £4.6 billion ($6.7bn; €5.3bn) in 2008, up 28% year-on-year, with revenues up 1% to £35.40bn. However, ceo Paul Polman said predicting earnings for this year and next would be "inappropriate".

The company's profits increased by 51% to £1.03bn in the last quarter of 2008, with revenues also rising by 3% to £8.86bn.

Upping prices by around 9% helped the company offset a 1.6% drop in the total number of items it sold in the last quarter, and the sale of its Bertolli olive oil unit to Grupo SOS also raised £550 million.

Poulson said Unilever would focus on increasing volume sales this year, but would not be drawn on forecast figures for 2009 and 2010.

Says he: "The first thing we will do is to protect our volumes. We can do that without compromising our operating cash flow and margins."

Jim Lawrence, Unilever's cfo, also announced the company would abandon its plan of increasing profit margins from 14.6% to 15.8%, while cuts in travel budgets and freezing management pay are among the other initiatives being put in place.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff