Unilever Strategy Working - 15% Profit Rise Expected

Unilever, the world's biggest food and soap maker, raised its full-year profit forecast, saying that new products such as Cornetto soft ice cream will speed growth. The UK shares posted their largest gain in at least thirteen years.

The maker of Dove soap and Lipton tea expects about a fifteen percent increase in earnings per share before goodwill and one time costs in 2002, bolstered by savings, spokesman Richard van der Eijk said. Unilever's previous forecast was 11 percent to 12 percent.

The Dutch-British company expects its 400 best selling brand names to account for over nine tenths of sales by the yearend, as products such as a yogurt version of Magnum ice cream boost profit. Unilever is halfway through a five year plan of cutting 1,200 brand names to reduce costs and focus on faster-growing product lines.

“They have the ability to invest considerable amounts into advertising and promotions to support product innovation to come,” said Rupert Trotter, an analyst at Royal & Sun Alliance Investment Management, which owns Unilever shares.


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