Amsterdam: Unilever, maker of consumer products such as Axe deodorants, Dove soaps, and Lipton teas, reported a 16% rise in net profit for the second quarter today, mostly due to strong consumer demand.
It also said it plans to sell businesses worth $2.7 billion in sales before 2010, including its US laundry arm, known for products such as “Surf” and “Snuggles”.
Net profit was euro1.4 billion ($1.56 billion), up from euro986 million, on sales of euro10.5 billion ($14.4 billion), up 1.9% from euro10.3 billion.
The company said that “underlying” sales growth, which strips out the impact of the weak dollar and from selling some operations, gained 5.8%.
“The strongest performances have been in personal care, tea, and household cleaning products,” Unilever NV/PLC said.
The Dutch-British maker of Ben & Jerry’s said ice cream, savory products such as Knorr soups, and laundry products “also contributed strongly” to growth.
Shares rose 6.8% to $31.67 in early trading in Amsterdam.
“Despite rising commodity costs, we have started to see the benefits of growth coming through in the bottom line,” Chief executive Patrick Cescau said in a statement.
The company forecast “underlying” sales growth of as much as 5% in 2007, with higher “underlying” margins and higher restructuring costs. It didn’t give a specific forecast for how much those costs would be in 2007, but said they would be an average of 2.5% of sales over 2007-2009.
Profit margins slipped by 0.3% to 13.7% of sales; Cescau said they would have risen by 0.2% if not for restructuring costs.