Sales of the top 400 brands, which Unilever previously said would grow by more than 2.5% in 2004, were predicted to improve in the second half of the year. Unilever said operating profit before exceptional items and amortization of goodwill and intangible assets fell 2% to $1.96 billion, which was just below analysts’ forecasts, according to a Reuters poll.
Unilever blamed poor ice cream and ready-to-drink tea sales in Europe, due primarily to a cool start to summer.
Group turnover fell 3% to $13 billion, but net proft jumped 34% boosted by lower interest costs and taxes.
For 2004, Mr. Markham maintained a forecast for an operating margin of more than 16%. l