Unilever full-year profit up 26%

Unilever says increased investment in advertising and strong sales in emerging markets helped lift its full-year profit by 26%.

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Net profit increased to €4.6bn (£3.95bn) for the 12 months to 31 December, compared with €3.7bn (£3.2bn) the previous year. Turnover was €44.2bn (£38bn), an 11% increase on 2009.

Fourth-quarter profit was up 15% to €1.04bn (£0.89bn) on the back of a 5.1% increase in sales.

Unilever’s underlying operating margins also rose for the full-year. The company has pledged to boost margins further by investing in marketing and promotions.

Chief executive Paul Polman says: “We gained volume share in all regions driven by stronger innovations, significant increases in marketing investment and the extension of brands into new territories.”

Unilever recently launched its Comfort laundry conditioner brand in India and rolled out Magnum ice cream in Indonesia.

Profit was also boosted by the company’s €1.4bn (£1.2bn) cost-saving drive. Unilever plans to make a further €1bn (£850.2m) of cost cuts in 2011.

Polman also says Unilever will make selective price increases this year to counter the sharp global rise in commodity costs.

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