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sounded a grim note in its midquarter update Monday, lowering its full-year sales estimates amid a continued slump in demand for its consumer products.

The British-Dutch giant said it now expects sales to be 4% higher in 2003, down from an earlier projection of 5% to 6%. Unilever also expects sales to miss forecasts for the second time in a row when it posts its second-quarter results July 30. Sales are expected to rise by 3%, below analysts' initial projections of up to 6% growth.

"We have clearly given up more of the headroom in our plan than we are comfortable with at this stage and are therefore adjusting the growth outlook ... for the year," the company said in a statement.

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But Unilever still managed to reaffirm its per-share earnings outlook of for this year, with an expected 10% rise over 2002 results.

London- and Rotterdam-based Unilever is amid a program to cut 33,000 workers and 1,200 brands in an effort to reduce costs and focus on its best-selling products.

Unilever's "UN" ADRs were down $5.94, or 9.7%, at $55.22 at the