Norwegian food company Rieber & Søn has booked an increase in profits for 2010 and said it remains “optimistic” about the year ahead.

Operating profit rose to NOK453m (US$78.7m), up from NOK424m last year, the company reported today (27 January).

Earnings per share amounted to NOK3.91, an 18% improvement on NOK3.32 recorded last year. The figure beat the firm’s target of NOK3.65.

Patrik Andersson, CEO of Rieber & Son, said: “I am very satisfied by the fact that we are reaching the targets we have set.”

Sales in 2010, however, fell by 8.5% to just over NOK4.5bn. Rieber & Son attributed the slide to sales of several operations last year, and the demerger of King Oscar.

“Although I would have liked higher sales in 2010, the key point is that we increase the profitability,” Andersson said.

The CEO said he wants “higher speed” in the market in 2011, and remains “optimistic” as two of the business units with a lapse in sales last year, foodservice and Czech Republic, both reported a “strong” fourth quarter.

Nevertheless, Rieber & Son’s shares dropped 0.21% to NOK47.70 at 11:17am GMT in trading today.

Click here to view the full earnings release.