Unilever has reaped the rewards from its divestitures during the past year but going forward, results may be somewhat more sobering.
The company reported its fourth quarter profits rose 51% to $1.57 billion (at average exchange rates). For the year, profit rose 28% to $7.78 billion.
Fourth quarter sales rose 3% to nearly $13.4 billion, and 1% to $59.6 billion for the full year.
Sales of personal care products, which includes Dove, Sunsilk and Axe/Lynx, rose 6.6% to more than $16.7 billion, in 2008.
But Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, warned: “Given the economic uncertainty I believe it would be inappropriate at this stage to provide an outlook specifically for 2009 or to reaffirm 2010 targets.”
Unilever’s long-term target previously called for annual underlying sales growth of 3% to 5%. By 2010, the group’s goal was to reach an operating margin of 15%.