Reckitt Benckiser has reported rising full-year sales and profits, despite the Vanish and Dettol owner flagging “challenging market conditions”.
The Durex-to-Gaviscon firm reported a 10% rise in full-year revenue to £12.6 billion in 2018, while operating profit rose 11% to £3 billion.
Pre-tax profit rose from £2.5 billion to £2.72 billion.
Pro forma like-for-like sales in 2018 were up 3% while, in the fourth quarter, net revenue was up 2% at £3.4 billion and like-for-like sales rose 4%.
Outgoing chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said: “2018 was a year of good financial progress, achieved in an environment of both significant change within the company, and challenging market conditions.
“We delivered the upper end of our 2018 revenue growth target, and accelerated the delivery of Mead Johnson cost synergies versus our ingoing expectations.”
Reckitt said last year that it expects growth in baby formula sales to slow due to declining birth rates in China.
It also saw third-quarter sales affected by a £70 million hit from problems at its European baby formula factory.
But the group is targeting comparable revenue growth of 3% to 4% in 2019 and expects to maintain its operating margin.
The FTSE 100 listed group snapped up baby milk maker Mead Johnson in a mammoth 18 billion US dollar (£14 billion) deal in 2017, and the deal delivered synergies of £158 million in the period.
Reckitt said it is on track to achieve its increased synergy target of 300 million US dollars.
Last month Reckitt announced that Mr Kapoor is to retire after more than eight years at the helm and 32 years with the company.
He will stand down by the end of 2019 and the household goods giant has launched the hunt for his replacement.
Shares in Reckitt were up nearly 5% in midday trade at 6,305p.
George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “An improved performance from the recently acquired infant nutrition business has helped Reckitt’s results come in slightly ahead of expectations.
“However, a strong showing in North America is masking continued problems in the key Chinese market, which is still hamstrung by weaker demographics and ongoing supply chain issues.”
He added that Mr Kapoor’s successor might look to consider a “break-up of the business”.