Unilever incurs pounds 600m charge

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Unilever said yesterday it would take a pounds 600m charge against its full-year profits to cover the cost of withdrawing from its weakest product lines. The news was taken well by the market, which saw the write-off as a sign that the Anglo-Dutch group was clarifying its structure and focus.

Shares in consumer products group Unilever moved sharply higher yesterday after better-than-expected third-quarter figures and the promise the company would accelerate the pace of its planned reshaping, which will see it shed its worst product lines in favour of key brands.

The group's shares rose 12.75p to close at 450p yesterday after it reported a 15 per cent rise in third-quarter profits to pounds 934m. Brokers had anticipated between pounds 798m and pounds 900m.

The company also said it would incur a charge of pounds 600m for the full year as it dumped poorly performing products, an increase over the pounds 237m it charged against profits last year. Two-thirds of the charge will be taken in the final quarter of the year, following a pounds 133m charge in the three months to September.