Henkel sales slide in Q4 but growth still forecast for 2010

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

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Henkel’s Q4 results show sales slip, but an improving tend means the company is continuing to forecast increased profits in 2010.

Fourth quarter sales fell by 6 per cent to €3.34bn, compared to the corresponding quarter in 2008, but in organic terms this figure represented slight growth of 0.6 per cent, thanks to improved currency translations and business transactions.

The company said that during the quarter sales for its consumer goods division had continued to grow, while its adhesives business had performed noticeably better, after a particularly poor start to the year.

Sales fall in 2009, but trend improves in second half

For the full year 2009 total group sales fell by 3.9 per cent to €13.57bn, which also represented a fall in sales of 3.5 per cent in organic terms, while the company reported that its full year net profit fell by half, from €1.2bn, to €602m.

The company said that the net profit figure made a difficult comparison to 2008 because it included a €1.042bn gain from the sale of its Ecolab business in the final quarter of that year.

Sales in 2009 were characterised by what the company termed a ‘substantial decline’ in the first quarter of the year, which had gradually eased with each successive quarter.

Cosmetics best performing category

In the consumer goods division, which is divided into home care and cosmetics, sales continued to progress positively during the course of the year, but the adhesives business was hard hit by the downturn in heavy industry.

The cosmetics division performed best overall, with full year sales remaining stable compared to 2008 at €3.01bn, but in organic terms this represented growth of 3.5 per cent, a performance that was boosted by its branded consumer goods business in Eastern Europe as well as Africa/Middle East, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

The company also said that its hair cosmetics segment showed substantial organic growth, while the oral care, skin care and body care categories all delivered solid performances.

A challenging year

“For Henkel – and the world economy as a whole – 2009 will go down as a challenging year,”​ said Kasper Rorsted, Henkel chairman.

“Our laundry & home care and cosmetics/toiletries businesses have expanded their market positions and further increased their profitability.”

Looking ahead to 2010, the company referred to the current market conditions as ‘mildly encouraging’ and predicts that both operating profit and adjusted earnings per share should increase at more than 10 per cent.

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