Financial analysts are expecting good news this week when Unilever announce its annual results on Thursday. A briefing from the Anglo-Dutch group before Christmas accounts for much of the enthusiasm as the company looks to achieve ambitious targets in a year characterised by acquisitions and disposals.

When Unilever unveiled its ‘Path to Growth’ plan last year, the company said it would focus on its top 400 brands, putting all its resources behind them to generate sales growth. But Unilever has also been active in the food sector with acquisitions including Bestfoods, Ben & Jerry’s and Slimfast, while also making disposals. The company was also seeking to rationalise production with 100 factories closing or sold with the loss of 25,000 jobs.

As a result Unilever anticipates growth in earnings per share before exceptionals to be towards the top end of the range of 8 to 10 per cent for the full year. This has been generated from sales growth of about 2 per cent and improving margins.