Anglo-Dutch household and food products multinational Unilever reported Thursday it had met its self-imposed target of double digit growth in 2001 – as measured by earnings per share before exceptionals and goodwill, expressed at constant exchange rates.

Earnings hit 27.27 cents per share at constant exchange rates, falling to 16.08 cents after factoring in currency fluctuations.

Earnings leapt by 12.2%, in accord with Unilever’s ‘path to growth’ restructuring plan, while sales rose 9% to €52.2 billion ($45.6bn; £31.8bn), including income from joint ventures. Assuming constant exchange rates, sales would have risen 11% to €53.4bn. Profit before tax soared 33% per cent to €3.6bn (€3.7bn at constant exchange rates).

Key Unilever brands – among them Dove and Lipton – enjoyed 5.3% growth and now account for 84% of the group’s revenues. The food business prospered in Europe, and a strong global performance was reported by its ice-cream unit. Skin care, hair care and deodorants also enjoyed a good year a good year, although its US perfume unit was adversely affected by the events of September 11.

On the downside, the Enjoy! range of ready meals in the UK had yet to meet launch expectations, but Unilever chairman Niall FitzGerald insisted that the group remains committed to the brand following “fine tuning”.

Marketing spend declined slightly as a proportion of sales during 2001, reported FitzGerald. This was attributable to more efficient media buying following a consolidation of its media agencies, as well as the general reduction in TV and print media rates.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff