Unilever sales growth 12% up in first quarter

Unilever had a sales growth of 8.4% with a turnover up by almost 12% 50 12.1bn euros in the first quarter of this year thanks to the Magnum Infinity range launched in Europe.

Growth in developed markets had risen up to 4.2% whilst 11.9% was achieved in emerging markets. Pricing had also increased by 4.7%.

Other than the ice cream, Unilever emphasised the growth of its spreads and dressings and savoury categories.

In a statement, the company had said: “Liquid margarine ranges are doing well and the growth of the Hellmann’s brand continues to be driven by the campaign to encourage new uses of mayonnaise”.

Regarding the savoury category, Unilever reported growth in Knorr baking bags and the extension of the jelly bouillon technology into gravy.

Darren Shirley and Clive Black, analysts with Shore Capital, said that the underlying sales growth were “very strong”.

They said: “We believe many Unilever watchers were also focused on input costs and the potential impact of the increase in a number of commodity prices since the preliminary results reported in early February.

“It is therefore no surprise that management is guiding to slightly higher cost pressure than the mid single-digit guidance from February, with the increased pressure coming from the higher crude oil and edible oil prices”.

Mr Shirley and Mr Black decided that Unilever – with its strong innovation pipeline – was well placed to benefit from strong consumer growth in developing economies. In addition to food, with the intended launch of hair care products in the US and Europe, Unilever was “on the front foot”.

Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, said: “Emerging markets, now 56% of the business, have again delivered strong growth. While the good performance in developed markets was against a weak prior year comparator, our performance is pleasing given struggling economies, continued fragile consumer confidence and competitor activity”.

In addition to the Infinity launch in Europe, Unilever also launched its Magnum brand in North America, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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