Third quarter profits slid forty-four per cent at Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever – mainly due, the group claimed, to high levels of interest payments and restructuring costs in the wake of its Bestfoods takeover [WAMN: 07-Jun-00].

Pretax profit for the quarter subsided to E1.01 billion, down from E1.49bn, although uderlying per-share earnings exceeded analysts’ plateau predictions: excluding one-time items, these rose 6%, while sales rose 13% from E12.02bn to E13.57bn.

Although Unilever said it expected to meet its full year earnings-per-share target of low double-digit growth, it cautioned that the climate had become tougher, citing as an example the adverse impact on its fragrances business of the sales decline at airport duty free outlets.

The markets responded to the figures with nominal enthusiasm, Unilever shares in London gaining 2.4% to £5.13 ($7.51) while those in Amsterdam rose 3.5% to E59.79.

News source: Wall Street Journal