Unilever net profit soars in first half of 2017

Unilever, the owner of brands like Hellman's, Lipton, and Knorr, says its net profit rose 22.4 percent in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period last year, to 3.3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) as a company-wide growth program bore fruit.

Unilever said Thursday that first-half sales rose 5.5 percent to 27.7 billion euros ($32 billion), calling its earnings a "substantial step-up in profitability despite the persisting volatile global trading environment."

The strong results came in a period in which rival consumer products giant Kraft Heinz withdrew a $143 billion takeover offer. In the aftermath of the February takeover bid, Unilever announced plans to sell its spreads division and combine its foods and refreshments units as part of a major review of operations.