By  on November 2, 2007

LONDON — Unilever said Thursday third-quarter profits shot up 37 percent year-on-year to reach 1.07 billion euros, or $1.47 billion at average exchange for the three-month period.

That performance was bolstered by a comparison with the year-earlier period, which was impacted by a 300 million euro, or $382.5 million, provision for compensation payments relating to the 2005 conversion of preference shares.

For the first nine months of 2007, profits spiked 17 percent at 3.27 billion euros, or $4.4 billion at average exchange.

"Material costs continue to increase sharply, but we have been able to more than counter this over the first nine months through savings programs and pricing actions," the company said in a statement.

In both the quarter and the nine-month period sales were up 1 percent at current exchange and 4 percent at constant exchange, weighing in at 10.24 billion euros, or $14.08 billion, and 30.3 billion euros, or $40.74 billion, respectively.

"Underlying sales growth of 4.5 percent in the quarter and 5.3 percent in the first nine months was partly offset by the effects of disposals and exchange rates," Unilever said in the statement.

"I feel comfortable about our longer-term goals — to deliver an operating margin in excess of 15 percent by 2010 and organic growth in the 3 percent to 5 percent range along the way," said Jim Lawrence, the company's chief financial officer, during a teleconference Thursday.

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