Unilever reports 5.0% profit rise to 4.48 bn euros

Global food and cosmetics giant Unilever reported on Wednesday that net profit last year rose by 5.0 percent from the 2011 level to 4.48 billion euros ($5.96 billion).

Unilever, which achieved sales exceeding 50 billion euros for the first time with a figure of 51.3 billion euros, up 10.5 percent, said the outcome was an important step towards its target of sales of 80 billion euros.

"There is no room for complacency," Unilever chief executive Paul Polman nevertheless warned in a statement.

"Markets will remain challenging, with intense competition and volatile commodity costs."

"We remain focused on achieving another year of profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable core operating margin improvement and strong cash flow."

Unilever's fourth-quarter sales rose by 7.8 percent, thanks largely to volume growth of 4.8 percent, higher than the 6.3 percent expected on average by analysts interviewed by Dow Jones Newswires

Underlying sales growth in emerging markets was 11.4 percent, representing 55.0 percent of the multinational's global turnover.

One of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, Unilever owns a wide variety of brands including Knorr, Lipton, Dove and Vaseline. It employs 167,000 workers in 100 countries.

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