Italian chocolate giant Ferrero is still examining its options on a possible bid for Britain's Cadbury PLC .

The UK confectioner has rejected a $16.2 billion offer from U.S. food group Kraft . U.S.-based Hershey Co and the unlisted family-owned Ferrero have said they were contemplating bids.

Ferrero remains interested in Cadbury, La Stampa newspaper said on Sunday, quoting the Italian firm.

Things are exactly as they were a month ago. Nothing has changed, a Ferrero spokesman told Reuters, declining to comment further.

In November, Ferrero said it was in the preliminary stages of evaluating options in respect of Cadbury.

La Stampa said Ferrero's interest in Cadbury had cooled. The spokesman said this contention was not based on anything the company has said.

Ferrero, based near the north west Italian city of Turin, is best known for its Nutella spread and Tic-Tac sweets.

The spokesman confirmed financial results provided to Italian news agency Ansa on December 24 on Ferrero's Italian unit Ferrero SpA, showing a 30 percent rise in operating profit in the year to the end of August.

Operating profit was 195.3 million euros while annual sales were 2.252 billion euros, little changed from the previous year.

The Italian unit represents about one third of Ferrero's worldwide sales, which in the year to August 2008 were 6.2 billion euros, according to its website..