Unilever says emerging markets boost profits

THE HAGUE, Nov 3, 2011 -Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever reported on Thursday a 7.8-percent rise in net profits for the third quarter, driven by strong growth in emerging markets.

Sales totalled 12.1 billion euros ($16.6 billion), with growth of 12.4 percent in its Asia-Africa region, notably in China, India, Indonesia and Turkey.

Its personal care products business grew to 11.3 percent, thanks to sales increases in deodorants, shampoos and skin products, Unilever said.

"These results are especially encouraging against the backdrop of very uncertain consumer demand, hugely volatile commodity markets, natural disasters and geo-political uncertainty in many parts of the world," it said in a statement.

Turnover was driven by increased sales volume growth at 1.9 percent, sales prices up by 5.8 percent, but with negative currency impact of 4.8 percent.

Unilever added the integration of the Sara Lee and Alberto Culver brands,

the deals which were finalised in December and May, was largely complete and Unilever was now introducing products made by these groups into new markets.

The Anglo-Dutch giant said it had launched a number of its products in new markets including Magnum ice cream in the United States, Indonesia and Malaysia, and cleaning ranges Domestos Systems in Poland and Cif in Peru.

But the group said its margins were under pressure following a rise in commodity prices and it expected its operating margin for 2011 "to be flat or slightly down," compared to 15 percent last year.

One of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, Unilever produces brands such as Knorr, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline and has sales in 180 countries around the world. It employs 167,000 workers in 100 countries and generated annual sales of just over 44 billion euros last year.

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