Reckitt sales boosted by sustained US flu season

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Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser has revealed a 2 per cent rise in first-half profits after this year’s extended flu season in the US boosted sales of products such as Strepsils.

The firm, which has a portfolio of brands that includes Dettol disinfectant, Durex condoms and Vanish stain remover, delivered first-half operating profits of £1.16 billion, in line with City forecasts.

Revenues grew 6 per cent to £5bn, and chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said he expects that pace to be maintained in the face of “challenging market conditions”.

Kapoor said full-year revenues are forecast to grow at the upper end of a 5 to 6 per cent range, excluding Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals (RBP), which makes heroin addiction treatment Suboxone.

Generic rivals to Suboxone were approved for sale in the US in February and have since taken about 13 per cent of the market.

Reckitt shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 60p a share on 26 September, an increase of 7 per cent on last year’s payout.