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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 10:06 GMT
Britons turn to chocolate amid gloom
Range of Cadbury chocolate products
Chocolate's place as Britons' favoured comfort food seems to have been confirmed in figures from confectionary giant Cadbury Schweppes.

The last few months of 2001, hit by gloom stemming from the terror attacks and global economic downturn, may have undermined sentiment in UK share and housing markets.

Cadbury - trading update
Sales: 5.52bn, +21%
Underlying pre-tax profit:
886m, + 12%
Eight businesses bought, including Orangina and Slush Puppie
Outlook: "Committed to financial targets"
But Cadbury said it was "encouraged" that, nonetheless, sales of its core chocolate products grew by 2% in the last three months of the year.

Trading at Christmas was "strong", the firm said, noting in particular growing sales of its flagship Dairy Milk brand, with sales of Milk Tray and Roses firm.

Egyptians also proved keen on Cadbury products, despite a tourism-led slump in the country's economy.

Snapple slide

But trade in the firm's Snapple brand, which relies on New Yorkers for 15% of North American sales, fared less well.

"September 11 had a material impact on Snapple in New York City," the firm said.

Overall, Cadbury reported underlying profits up 12% to 886m for last year, beating forecasts by City analysts.

Sales surged 21% to 5.52bn.

The firm said earnings would have been higher had it not been for "disruption" in the merger of chocolate and sugar businesses in the UK and Canada.

But Cadbury was cheered by a revival in the South African chocolate market for the "first time in several years".

City reaction

The results were well received in the City, where analysts at investment bank ABN Amro upgraded shares in the firm from "add" to "buy".

"Cadbury has announced excellent 2001 results," ABN said in a research note.

Cadbury shares stood nearly 24p up on mid-afternoon trading, at 458.5p.

See also:

21 Dec 00 | Business
Cadbury buys Slush Puppie
29 Sep 00 | Business
Orangina sale talks
04 Jun 00 | Business
Cadburys in joint 10bn Nabisco 'bid'
24 May 00 | Business
Cadbury seeks French deal
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