PZ Cussons posts 8 pct rise in first-half profit

LONDON Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:42am EST

LONDON Jan 21 (Reuters) - PZ Cussons, the maker of Imperial Leather soaps, said new and improved products helped it post an 8 percent rise in first-half profit, adding that trading since had met its expectations.

The British soap and shampoo maker said on Tuesday profit before tax and exceptional items for the six months to Nov. 30 rose to 47.6 million pounds ($78.2 million), with revenues up 4.1 percent to 431.8 million pounds.

"Whilst the trading environment in most markets, and the impact of currency weakness in emerging markets, remains challenging, we can see good prospects for continued growth," the company said in a statement, adding that the Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah had been particularly weak.

The group said new shower and handwash ranges had helped its UK business to a robust performance in the first half, while growth was improving in Nigeria. Together the two countries account for over 60 percent of group sales.

PZ Cussons raised its interim dividend by 7.7 percent to 2.53 pence.

Shares in the firm closed at 396.2 pence on Monday, up 3 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 1.7 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.6090 British pounds)