IFF posts better-than-expected quarterly profit

* Q4 EPS excluding items 50 cents vs 53 cents a yr-ago

* Q4 EPS 62 cents vs 58 cents a yr-ago

* Shares close up 16.1 pct (Adds CEO comments, background, share move, by-line)

By Euan Rocha

NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - International Flavors & Fragrances Inc (IFF.N) posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on Thursday, helped by higher prices and strong growth in the Asia.


www.IFF.com

Net income rose to $49 million, or 62 cents a share, from $47.2 million, or 58 cents a share, a year earlier.

The latest results included a 22-cent-per-share benefit from prior years' tax settlements and a 10-cent restructuring charge, while the 2007 fourth quarter results included a 5-cent gain on an asset sale.

IFF, which makes flavors and fragrances used in food, beverages, perfumes, detergents and a range of other products, said it had initiated a performance improvement plan that would result in about 90 job cuts globally.

Excluding special items, earnings fell to 50 cents a share from 53 cents, but beat Wall Street's average forecast of 46 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

IFF's fine fragrance business makes perfumes for designer and celebrity brand labels, including Ralph Lauren's Polo Blue, Calvin Klein's Eternity and Estee Lauder's Intuition. Its functional fragrances are used in detergents and air fresheners, while its flavors products are used in soft drinks, sweets and processed foods.

IFF's Chief Executive Robert Amen said he expects the strong U.S. dollar to negatively impact IFF in the first half of 2009.

But, Amen said he feels positive about the year given the contracts the company has in place and he expects IFF's cost cutting initiatives to help boost earnings through the course of 2009.

"I feel good about what we are doing, we've got a good order book right now. But, I can't tell you it's a slam dunk because the world's too scary right now," said Amen.

International Flavors and Fragrances competes with Switzerland's Givaudan AG (GIVN.VX), Germany's Symrise (SY1G.DE), Firmenich and others in the highly competitive global market to supply the food industry and design perfumes.

IFF's shares rose 16.1 percent in the day and closed at $32.35 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Carol Bishopric)

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