Reckitt reassures on earnings after rival's problems

Reckitt Benckiser is growing faster than its markets despite tough trading in southern Europe and some slowing in emerging markets, as the British consumer goods group focuses on its top brands and fastest-growing regions.

Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor, who took over last September after Bart Becht's shock decision to retire, today reported half-year earnings rose 2 per cent, in contrast to competitor Procter and Gamble which warned on profits.

Reckitt, which makes Nurofen painkillers and Cillit Bang cleaners, is sharpening up its act to offset sluggish European and North American markets and pushing more money behind its key products and priority markets to help it outpace rivals.

Kapoor's strategy is for renewed emphasis on the company's fastest-growing health and hygiene brands like Dettol, Strepsils and Durex and moving quicker into the key emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"These results and our exciting innovations for H2... underpins our confidence in our 2012 target of 200 bps above our market growth rate of 1-2 per cent," he said in a statement.

Reckitt, which also makes Air Wick air fresheners, Vanish fabric cleaners and Finish dish wash products, reported half-year adjusted earnings rose 2 per cent to 111.1 pence a share, beating a company-compiled forecast of 110 pence. It is paying a half-year dividend of 56 pence a share, up 2 per cent of the return."