Confectionery and soft drinks giant Cadbury Schweppes has warned it expects to miss critical profitability targets this year despite heavy cost-cutting and repeated assurances that performance was 'on track'.

The London-headquartered company's ceo Todd Stitzer blames the shortfall on spiralling oil price rises and hurricane-related disruption.

The latest statement is a reversal of the positive mood in July when Cadbury reported its best interim trading performance in a decade after selling more than £3 billion ($5.31bn; €4.38bn) of confectionery and soft drinks in the six months to June.

The group has a four-year 'Fuel for Growth' plan to increase margins. But, says Stitzer: "Despite intensifying cost pressures and significant growth-related investment, we expect a further improvement in margin in 2005, although we are unlikely to make sufficient progress to be within our margin goal range this year."

The group announced last month an auction of its European soft drink range, including such brands as Orangina and Oasis [WAMN: 02-Sept-05]

The sale is expected to raise up to £1.1bn. The proceeds will be used to fund expansion in the US and elsewhere.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff