Rotterdam: Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever reported a 31% gain in third quarter net earnings on 1 November despite a slowdown in sales in Europe where bad weather cut into ice cream consumption.
The company said net profit came to 1.068 billion euros ($154 crore) from sales that were up 1% compared to third quarter 2006 at 10.243 billion euros. “I think we will achieve our goals in 2007 ... and that our overall strategy will put us in a good position to meet our long-term targets,” said Unilever chief executive Patrick Cescau.
Shares in the group were showing an early gain of 3.62% on the Amsterdam exchange at 23.20 euros. Unilever, which markets the ice cream brands Ben and Jerry’s, Magnum and Cornetto, said “the weather in northern Europe affected ice cream sales in the third quarter.”
Overall European sales, which represent about a third of the total, fell 0.6% in the period from the same quarter last year. Sales also fell 2.3% in the U.S. but jumped 8.1% in Africa-Asia to 3 billion euros, driven by robust performances in China and India.
Unilever, which also makes Lipton soups, Dove soap and Amora mustard, in early August announced plans to cut 20,000 jobs worldwide over the next four years, or 11% of its workforce. The company at the time said it expected sales this year to grow by 3-5%.
The group also said it would either close or “substantially rationalise” 50 to 60 production sites in order to reduce costs. The restructuring cost Unilever 234 million euros in the third quarter, which contributed to 7% decline in operating earnings to 1.403 billion euros.