Unilever Ghana Expects Challenging Year After 2012 Profit Fell

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Unilever Ghana Ltd., a maker of soaps, toothpaste and cooking oil in the West African nation, said it continued to battle rising input costs that almost halved profit in 2012.

“We envisage 2013 will be challenging as the conditions which faced businesses in 2012 are not entirely behind us,” the company, a unit of Netherlands-based Unilever NV, said in a statement published in Ghana’s Daily Graphic newspaper.

Unilever said last year it wants to double its Africa revenue within five years as it taps rising wages and consumer spending in the fast-growing continent. Its brands include Dove soap, Lipton tea and Wall’s icecream.

Unilever Ghana’s net income decreased 44 percent to 16.7 million cedis ($8.8 million) in 2012, the company said. Revenue grew 18 percent to 282.1 million cedis.

“Profit was mainly impacted by high input costs driven by the depreciation of the local currency,” Unilever Ghana said. Rising fuel and energy costs as well as “significant increases in capital expenditure” also contributed, it said.

“With expectations that the currency will stabilize this year, we expect a turnaround of the situation for profit to grow,” Xorlali Torsu, a trader at Databank Financial Services Ltd. in Accra, said by phone.

The cedi weakened 14 percent in 2012 and has remained broadly level in the month to date. Unilever Ghana’s shares traded unchanged at 10 cedis as of 2:21 p.m. in Accra.

To contact the reporter on this story: Moses Mozart Dzawu in Accra at mdzawu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net