Wimm-Bill-Dann has posted a marked rise in sales and profits for the first nine months of 2007, despite what it called "a challenging global cost environment".

The Russian beverage, dairy and baby foods company said today (14 December) that operating income for the nine months to the end of September rose by 30.2% year-on-year to US$168.3m. Sales for the group as a whole leapt 40.4% to $1.76bn, with beverage sales up 28.6% at $310.6m.

Net income for the period climbed 33.4% year-on-year to $105.6m.

Beverage sales were driven by volume growth and an increase in prices, the company noted. "Despite continued raw materials cost pressure, the gross margin in the beverages segment increased to 40.4% in the first nine months of 2007 from 34.4% in the first nine months of 2006, driven by continued efficiency improvements and better pricing and discount management in all regions," the company said.

Tony Maher, Wimm-Bill-Dann's CEO, added: "We are very pleased with the strong results we achieved for the first nine months of 2007 especially in the most challenging raw material cost environment.

"Our beverages business continues to progress well realising a solid 28.6% sales increase and a significant margin improvement to 40.4% in the first nine months of 2007 from 34.4% in the same period last year."

In the third quarter, operating income rose by 57.8% to $59.9m. Group sales were up by 39.1% at $610.5m, with beverage sales climbing 26.6% to $98.5m. Net profit in the three-month period registered a 104.9% leap, to $39.8m.