Source AP ©

Baby food maker Numico says first-quarter profit rose more than 50 percent

Royal Numico NV, a Dutch maker of baby foods, said Wednesday net profit rose by more than 50 percent in the first quarter, due to growth in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Numico, the maker of the Olvarit, Bambix and Nutrilon brands, said conditions in Western Europe are also improving.

Net profit climbed to EURO74 million (US$101 million), up from EURO 47 million in the same period a year ago, the company said in a statement. Sales rose 6.8 percent to EURO 679 million (US$925 million).

Chief Executive Jan Bennink reiterated the company's financial targets of at least 10 percent sales growth for the year, and said Numico would handle rising raw material costs through price increases and unspecified "cost saving programs."

The company's smaller "clinical nutrition" division - which sells health foods to hospitals - grew sales at 14 percent to EURO184 million (US$251 million).

Net debt stood at EURO1.42 billion (US$1.94 billion) at the end of the quarter, a reminder of the company's ill-fated foray into the supplements market. It sold General Nutrition Co. and Rexall Sundown at a loss of more than EURO2 billion after buying them in the late 1990s.