Higher prices increased sales at Unilever

Brittany BishopApr 23, 2017

Underlying sales of Home Care and Personal Care increased 3.4 percent. Growth was broad-based, with each of its main product divisions expanding. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Becel, Ben & Jerry's, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Dove, Good Humor, Hellmann's, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!, Klondike, Knorr, Lipton, Magnum, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond's, Popsicle, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TIGI, TRESemmé and Vaseline.

Nestle, known for its KitKat chocolate bars, Purina pet food and Nescafe coffee, reported total sales of 21bn Swiss francs (£16.44bn), growth of less than 1% from the first quarter of 2016.

Geographically speaking, Unilever endured declining volumes in the US and Europe thanks to weak demand and competitive challenges.

Unilever said its quarterly interim dividend for United Kingdom shares will be 30.21p per share, a rise of 12% year-on-year.

"The first quarter shows growth once more ahead of our markets", CEO Paul Polman said.

"This reflects our continued investment in both innovations and brand support, and reconfirms the strength of our long term sustainable compounding growth model".

Image source: Unilever investor presentation.

That helped to offset a tough European market where "consumer demand remained weak and the retail environment challenging". The company is investing in diversifying away from these markets, but there are still opportunities to expand its coverage. The gains outpaced growth in many markets, but were not uniform. That compares to analysts' estimates of 2pc, according to a consensus compiled by the company, and growth of 2.2pc in the fourth quarter and 3.2pc in the third quarter.

Unilever also predicted improving profit margins for the rest of the year. That includes a 0.8-percentage-point improvement in fiscal 2017 alone.

Unilever is committed to supporting a transforming food industry by producing food that tastes good, does good and doesn't cost the Earth. The company expects the transaction to close in the next few weeks.

Turnover from Unilever's food business, which takes in brands including Colman's mustard and Becel margarine, stood at EUR3.2bn, which equated to underlying sales that were flat year-on-year.

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