Food and drinks colossus Nestlé last week posted a 16.4% surge in net profits to 6.68 billion Swiss francs (€4.5bn; $3.9bn; £2.8bn) for 2001, well ahead of the 11% rise predicted by analysts.

Sales, however, saw slower growth than expected, rising 4% to 84.7bn Swiss francs, though internal expansion (volume growth excluding acquisitions/divestments and currency fluctuations) beat forecasts at 4.4%. Meanwhile, EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) increased 1.2% to 9.7bn Swiss francs.

The world's biggest food concern expects to meet and possibly better its 2002 volume growth target of 4%, and also intends to maintain a cost-cutting programme designed to save 3bn Swiss francs by 2006.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff