The personal care giant, parent of brands such as Dove, Vaseline and Pond's, saw broadly flat sales.

LONDON — First-half profits at Unilever PLC, the food and personal care giant and parent of brands such as Dove, Vaseline and Pond’s, climbed 12.6 percent to 2.68 billion euros, or $3.51 billion, on the back of broadly flat sales.

Sales in the six months to June 30 rose 0.4 percent to 25.5 billion euros, or $33.4 billion. At constant exchange rates, they climbed 3.8 percent. All figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the six-month period.

During the first half, business disposals contributed 371 million euros, or $486 million, to non-core profits, compared with 10 million euros, or $13 million, in the first half of last year. Unilever said the 2013 income primarily relates to the sale of the Skippy brand.

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Chief executive Paul Polman said the company was delivering more profitable innovations, improving mix and continuing to apply a rigorous approach to supply chain costs and savings.

“The tougher economic environment and reinvigorated competition require us to set the bar higher on innovation and to increase investment behind our brands. At the same time, we need to continue to take costs out of the system to help finance this investment,” he said.

Polman added that during the period, the home care and personal care categories performed strongly in a climate of increased competitive pressure, while the underlying performance of the foods and refreshment categories is starting to improve.

“Innovation remains the key driver of growth, with examples such as compressed deodorants, Vaseline Spray & Go and Magnum 5 kisses. And there is more to come: our innovation pipeline is robust, which will be vital as we navigate the slowdown in many parts of the world,” he said.

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