Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever raised its 2002 forecast on Wednesday and reported a larger-than-expected 31 per cent increase in second-quarter core earnings.
The maker of Dove soap, Knorr soups and Omo detergent said core profit, before extraordinary items, intangibles and amortisation of goodwill (BEIA) - was €1.077 billion compared to €824 million a year ago.
According to a Reuters poll of 10 analysts, it was expected to post net profit BEIA of €985 million, with forecasts ranging from €972 million to €993 million.
Unilever said it now expected 2002 core earnings per share growth in the "mid-teens", raising its previous outlook for low double digit growth.
"Given the strong increase in profitability and whilst retaining the capacity for an increased level of marketing investment to support accelerating innovation in the second half, we are raising our outlook for the year's EPS BEIA to the mid-teens," Unilever said in a statement.
Total net profit fell to €658 million in the second quarter from €881 million last year as exceptional gains fell to €38 million from €477 million in the year-ago period.
Second quarter net profits were forecast between €312 million and €528 million with consensus at €457 million euros.
Unilever also said sales of its top brands grew 4.4 per cent in the second quarter and were expected to increase 4.5 to 5.0 per cent in 2002. Unilever has previously said it plans to grow revenues of leading brands by 5 to 6 per cent by 2004.
"The results are very good and it is especially positive that they have upped their outlook. This is going to help the market go up today... Unilever is going to be the flavour of the day," said Delta Lloyd, a trader at Paulo Nunes.