By  on May 9, 2008

LONDON — Unilever announced Thursday its first-quarter profits spiked 31 percent to 1.41 billion euros, or $2.1 billion at average exchange, thanks in part to profits from divested businesses, and said it expects its full-year underlying sales growth to exceed its initial 3 to 5 percent projection.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, which owns personal care brands, including Dove and Sunsilk, as well as a plethora of home care and food businesses, reported flat sales at 9.57 billion euros, or $14.34 billion. At constant exchange, sales grew 6 percent in the quarter, while underlying sales growth was up 7.2 percent. Unilever's operating margin, meanwhile, was 5.3 percentage points higher than the prior-year period at 19 percent.

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