Dairy Milk to Dr Pepper maker Cadbury Schweppes has reported a 6% improvement in full-year profits.

The confectionery and soft drinks group, based in the UK, said that underlying pre-tax profits were £935m (US$1.51bn) for the 52 weeks to 29 December, 2002, in line with analysts’ forecasts of £928-950m.

Cadbury hit its financial targets of underlying double digit earning growth and free cash flow of £300m in 2002 for the sixth year running, but the targets are on hold for 2003 due to the dilutive effect of Adams and group restructuring.

A warning that 2003 profits at the DPSU US soft drinks division would be flat sent mild jitters through the stock market, with shares falling 4.2% in response.

The group said: “To further focus the business on growth and value creation we have today announced a comprehensive management reorganisation including the amalgamation of our North American beverage businesses. For all these reasons, 2003 will be a year of transition as we consolidate these various developments. This will have some impact on our achievement against our targets for this year, but will provide an excellent platform for future revenue and profit growth.”

The cost and effort of integrating Adams, the sugar confectionery division Cadbury acquired last year, is likely to keep the group busy in 2003 – and give it opportunity to slip up, Merrill Lynch food industry analyst Nic Sochovsky told Reuters.