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Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2002. Page 6

WBD Ups Profit 49% to $31.8M

Reuters Juice and dairy producer Wimm-Bill-Dann said Monday that its net profit rose 48.6 percent in 2001, falling short of market expectations.

In its first earnings release since a February initial public offering, the company said its net profit climbed to $31.8 million from $21.4 million the previous year.

"Investors were expecting a little more on both the full-year figures and the first quarter of 2002," said Vladimir Savov of Brunswick UBS Warburg. "On the other hand, the company's strategy is still strong and sound. We should not view the results as a sign of a problem."

Analysts' expectations ranged from $39 million to $46.7 million, according to a Reuters survey.

"One of the negative factors is the growth in the prices of concentrates," chief executive Sergei Plastinin told reporters. "A positive factor is the speedy development of agriculture, including milk production. The price of unpasteurized milk is going down, which gives us the opportunity to increase our margins."

Full-year sales, which came in at $674.9 million in 2001 versus $465.41 million in 2000, were also below expectations in the range of $684 million to $687.9 million.

Financial director Svetlana Ardentova said Wimm-Bill-Dann expected to see sales growth of at least 25 percent in 2002.

"Organic sales growth will be no less than 25 percent in 2002. It is hard to forecast what non-organic growth will be," Ardentova said.

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