Reckitt Benckiser predicts it will beat its full year targets

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The Independent Online

Reckitt Benckiser, the Anglo-Dutch household products group, yesterday predicted that it would beat its full-year targets as demand for new products produced a strong third-quarter performance.

The company, best known for its household brands such as Vanish and Mr Sheen, said that increased marketing and media investment had buoyed growth in the developed markets, which represent three-quarters of its business.

Bart Becht, the chief executive, said the group expected to "somewhat exceed" the higher targets set at its interim results. These were for net revenue growth of 6 per cent and net income growth of 18 per cent.

A string of big-hitting product launches, such as Finish 3-in-1 dishwasher detergent and Harpic powerfoam, helped Reckitt to increase third-quarter revenues from continuing global operations for the three months to 30 September by 5 per cent to £816m. Net revenues rose 7 per cent to £843m. Pre-tax profit excluding disposals rose 17 per cent to £101m from £86m.

The company – formed in 1999 when Britain's Reckitt & Colman acquired the Dutch Benckiser – halted its disposal programme of non-core businesses in August. It said it had no plans to sell its food division, despite tougher times for buyers in the US food service industry.

Julian Hardwick, an analyst at ABN Amro, said the company was unlikely to suffer from lower consumer spending in developed markets where weaker brands tended to suffer in times of recession. However, lower disposable consumer income in emerging markets, which contribute 25 per cent of sales, had affected growth, he said. Reckitt's shares lost 9.5p to 975p.

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