Unilever sees consistent growth in first half

Unilever’s results for the first half of 2019 show underlying sales growth of 3.3%, led by its emerging market business which grew 6.2%.

CEO Alan Jope said: “We have delivered consistent growth within our guided range for 2019, led by our emerging markets. Accelerating growth remains our top priority and we continue to evolve our portfolio and seek out fast growth channel and geographical opportunities, as well as address those performance hotspots where growth is falling short of our aspirations.

“For the full year, we continue to expect underlying sales growth to be in the lower half of our multi-year 3-5% range, an improvement in underlying operating margin that keeps us on track for the 2020 target and another year of strong free cash flow. Our sustainable business model and portfolio of purpose-led brands are key to delivering superior long-term financial performance.”

Growth in Unilever’s markets was mixed. Market growth in Europe and North America was held back by the impact of weather on ice cream sales, while in emerging markets the company continued to see good momentum particularly in China and South East Asia. India saw strong market growth, though it moderated, as expected. Argentina remains hyperinflationary and high levels of pricing continue to weigh on consumer demand.

Unilever overall performance

Underlying sales grew 3.3% with 1.2% from volume and 2.1% from price. Emerging markets grew 6.2%, led by Asia/AMET/RUB, which saw broad-based geographic growth, whilst developed markets were weaker..

Turnover in the first half decreased 0.9% driven by the sale of the spreads business, partially offset by a currency benefit of 1.1%.

Ice cream sees mixed results

Underlying sales in the Food & Refreshment division grew 1.3%.

Despite poorer weather in the second quarter compared to the previous two years, ice cream grew slightly over the half. Ice cream saw good performance in Asia/AMET/RUB and from innovations such as Magnum White Chocolate and Cookies.

Underlying operating margin in Foods & Refreshment decreased by 40bps, as a result of an adverse impact on overheads related to the disposal of our spreads business.

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