October 28, 2008 / 8:17 AM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Unilever Indonesia 9-mth net profit up 30 pct y/y

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JAKARTA, Oct 28 (Reuters) - PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk (UNVR.JK), the local unit of Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever Plc (ULVR.L), reported a 30 percent rise in its nine-month net profit on Tuesday, thanks to strong sales and a one-off gain.

Consumer spending, which has received a boost since the central bank lowered interest rates early this year, is the main growth driver for Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

But some analysts have warned that rising inflation, due to a decision by the government to hike fuel prices by around 30 percent in late May, may dampen consumer spending in the later part of 2008.

Unilever — which produces various consumer products such as soap, detergents, dairy-based foods and cosmetics — said its net profit for January-September rose to 2.05 trillion rupiah ($190.7 million) from 1.58 trillion rupiah in the year-ago period.

Sales climbed 22.4 percent to 11.76 trillion rupiah from 9.60 trillion rupiah a year earlier. The firm also reported a one-off gain of nearly 30 billion rupiah.

Unilever, which has a market capitalisation of $5.2 billion, saw its operating margin edging up to nearly 25 percent as of September from around 23 percent in the same period of 2007, as its operating income rose nearly 29 percent to 2.88 trillion rupiah.

The firm’s 2008 profit is forecast at 2.48 trillion rupiah and revenue at 15.14 trillion rupiah, according to analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Indonesia’s key interest rate, the BI rate BIPG, fell to 8 percent at the end of 2007 from a record high of 12.75 percent in late 2005 on easing inflation.

But with inflation returning to double digit levels since June, after the government raised fuel prices, the central bank has increased the benchmark interest rate by a total of 150 basis points to 9.50 percent. ($1 = 10,749 rupiah) (Reporting by Harry Suhartono, writing by Andreas Ismar, editing by Sugita Katyal)

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