Consumer chemicals group Henkel in buoyant mood | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 09.05.2012
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Consumer chemicals group Henkel in buoyant mood

German producer of washing powder and adhesives, Henkel, has reported unexpectedly high net profits for the first quarter of this year. The firm managed to pass on higher material costs to customers.

Henkel of Germany, the maker of Persil washing powder, adhesives and cosmetics, announced on Wednesday that its first-quarter earnings surged beyond analysts' expectations. Net profit was up nearly 30 percent year-on-year, totaling 378 million euros ($490 million).

"Henkel had a good start to the fiscal year in spite of a challenging and volatile market environment," Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted said in a statement. "All our business sectors contributed to this achievement, with our emerging markets once again registering a strong development."

The group posted its most dynamic growth in eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Business in crisis-stricken southern Europe, however, stagnated as the region continued to grapple with soaring public debt.

Booming sales almost everywhere

Henkel's sales in the first quarter were a fraction over four billion euros, a 4.8 percent rise on the year. The Düsseldorf-based company said it was able to compensate higher material costs through price hikes in all product sectors and structural reforms within the group.

The firm has for years been decreasing its workforce world wide, with the first quarter of 2012 not being an exception. Towards the end of March, the company employed 46,854 people, 411 fewer than at the turn of the year.

Businesswise, the German consumer chemicals giant fared much better than its US rival, Procter & Gamble. The latter posted considerable losses in the new year amid a large-scale restructuring scheme. The US company announced in February it would cut 5,700 jobs worldwide and save $10 billion by 2016.

hg/ji (AFP, dpa, dapd, Reuters)