Feb 2, 2012
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Unilever 2011 profits stable despite 'difficult markets'

Feb 2, 2012

THE HAGUE - The Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever on Thursday reported essentially unchanged profit figures for 2011, owing to difficult markets and pressure from rising commodity prices.

Unilever's net profit came in at 4.25 billion euros ($5.58 billion), compared with 4.24 billion in 2010, a statement said, on sales that gained five percent to 46.47 billion euros.

The Rotterdam-based group underscored that its results were achieved against a background of difficult markets.

It noted that progress had been made to turn Unilever into a "sustainable growth company despite difficult markets and an unusual number of significant external challenges," but did not go into detail.

Group chief executive Paul Polman stressed that the group was implementing its strategies by "taking the right decisions for the long term, however difficult they may be in the short term."

Unilever posted fourth-quarter sales of 11.56 billion euros, up 6.8 percent but below analysts' forecasts of 11.71 billion euros according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Unilever's personal care and food product arms recorded notable sales increases in South East Asia and in India, the group said.

It pointed to strong growth overall in emerging markets, which now account for 53 percent of the group's total, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Latin American divisions saw growth of 10.8 percent while those in western Europe reported a much more modest increase of 0.7 percent.

One of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, Unilever owns a wide variety of brands including Knorr, Lipton, Dove and Vaseline. It employs 167,000 workers in 100 countries.

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