Finnish Benecol maker Raisio today (3 November) posted a rise in nine-month earnings from continuing operations, despite a slip in sales for the period, on the back of improved margins.

EBIT from continuing operations totalled EUR7.3m, up from EUR6.7m in the comparable period of last year. Profits increased to 7.7% of net sales, up from 5.4% last year.

However, Raisio's net sales in the July-September period totalled EUR95.5m, down from EUR123.9m last year.

Meanwhile, EPS remained unchanged from last year at EUR0.03.

Hailing the "solid" result, CEO Matti Rihko said Raisio has successfully strengthened its brands in spite of the difficult economic environment.

Looking to the coming year, Rihko said: "The divestment of the margarine business will carry us into a growth period, which is expected to cover the years 2010 and 2011."

However, he cautioned that the main risks in the near-term come from "possible changes" caused by "general economic development" in the markets in which Raisio operates, along with fluctuating raw materials costs.