Growth for Orkla in second quarter

Orkla achieved satisfactory profit in the second quarter. Orkla Foods made the greatest progress, mainly driven by the performance of Procordia Food in Sweden, Orkla Brands once again delivered a good result, as the Biscuits and Confectionery businesses managed to both increase sales and cut costs. Compared with the corresponding period last year, Group profit before tax rose from NOK 1.1 billion to NOK 1.7 billion.

The upswing on the financial markets has increased the value of Orkla's financial portfolio, and the entire loss provision posted in the first quarter has now been reversed. Sales of portfolio shares and settlements for previously divested companies contributed to strong cash flow in the second quarter.
 
"We have had a quarter with many satisfactory operational improvements and a strong cash flow," says Group President and CEO Finn Jebsen.
 
"We  are pleased with the performance of Orkla Foods and Orkla Brands. As far as Beverages is concerned, there is a positive momentum and it should be noted that the Russian market has again shown good growth.
 
As for the Danish advertising market, the outlook remains uncertain and we still see no clear signs of improvement. We are making every effort to further reduce operating costs in this area of the business."
 
The Orkla Group's revenues for the first six months of 2003 totalled NOK 21.5 billion, on a par with the first half of last year. Group operating profit before goodwill amortisation for the same period amounted to NOK 1.6 billion, compared with NOK 1.7 billion in 2002.
 
At the end of the second quarter, Orkla's earnings per share were NOK 5.7, compared with NOK 4.8 at the end of June last year.