Unilever’s third-quarter sales leap back to growth

Reuters London | Updated on October 22, 2020

Sales in emerging markets rise 5.3 per cent

Unilever reported a stronger-than-expected return to sales growth in the third quarter on Thursday led by emerging markets where it generates the bulk of its revenue.

Underlying sales rose 4.4 per cent, for the Anglo-Dutch maker of Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Tresemme shampoo. Analysts on average were expecting an increase of 1.3 percent, according to a company-supplied consensus.

Sales in emerging markets rose 5.3 per cent, while developed markets rose 3.1 per cent.

Turnover was €12.9 billion, versus analysts' estimate of €12.7 billion ($15.05 billion).

Also read: HUL’s Q2 performance indicates a comeback in demand

Unilever’s sales had fallen 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, its first drop in 16 years, hurt by steep declines in food eaten out of the home and the pandemic’s impact on emerging markets.

Unilever withdrew its annual sales growth target in April, due to uncertainty around the pandemic and said on Thursday it would still not be giving any short-term guidance.

Like its larger peer Nestle, Unilever has been buying assets to get more exposure to fast-growing categories like vegan foods and premium beauty and moving out of slower categories like margarine and tea.

Nestle reported a strong acceleration in third-quarter sales and raised its outlook on Wednesday.

Unilever is planning to unify its dual-headed corporate structure into one London-based entity. The unification is expected to complete next month.

Its shares are up about 8 per cent this year through Wednesday, while the FTSE 100 has fallen 23 per cent.

Published on October 22, 2020

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