Anglo-Dutch food and household products conglomerate Unilever told analysts Wednesday that it remains on course to achieve “low double-digit” growth in underlying earnings per share in the current year.

Even in these recessionary times, it’s an ill wind that blows no-one any good and Unilever made special mention of the bonus it currently enjoys from lower advertising rates.

Reviewing the first two months of the fourth quarter in a conference call to brokers and other camp followers, Unilever conceded that H2 trading conditions had “certainly been more challenging than we had anticipated at the start of the year”.

Despite this, the business displayed “its natural resilience” and quarterly earnings per share before exceptionals and goodwill amortisation are expected to increase by around 35%.

Referring to its North American operations, Unilever expects a sales decline in the current quarter of between 5% to 6% – mainly attributable to disposals. But the events of September 11 impacted particularly on its perfume business, including the Calvin Klein range, which it expects to retrench this quarter by 20% in underlying sales.

Flagship brands such as Cif and Domestos cleaning products through to Vaseline body care, Lipton tea and Magnum ice-cream, are forecast to grow by about 5% per cent this year, compared with 3.8% growth in Q4 2000.

News source: Financial Times