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Unilever Predicts Continued Slow Economic Growth

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Unilever Predicts Continued Slow Economic Growth

Unilever Predicts Continued Slow Economic Growth
August 05
11:57 2010

Unilever has reported a 35% increase in net profit to Eur2.21b on turnover ahead by 9.7% to Eur21.89b with underlying sales growth of 3.8% for the first half of 2010. Group operating profit rose by 20% to Eur3.07b.

Although prices were down by 2.6% during the first half, this was offset by underlying volume growth of 6.6%. The underlying operating margin advanced 30bps with continuing strong gross margins offset by significant investment in advertising and promotional expenditure, up 180bps.

Market growth in developed economies remains depressed whilst emerging market growth remains strong. Within its Western European region, markets were difficult, particularly in southern European countries such as Greece, Spain and, to a lesser extent, Italy.

Paul Pulman, chief executive of Unilever.

Unilever’s global ice cream and beverages business increased underlying sales growth by 5.1% in the first half while savoury, dressings and spreads grew at a less impressive 0.3%.

“We continue to operate under the assumption of slow economic growth, particularly in developed markets where consumer confidence remains fragile. We do not expect competitive pressures to ease and our ability to increase prices will remain constrained despite rising commodity costs in the second half. We still expect underlying price growth to turn positive towards the end of the year,” says Paul Pulman, chief executive of Unilever. “Notwithstanding this difficult environment and comparators which get tougher as the year progresses, the results confirm again that our strategy to focus on the consumer and to accelerate growth is working. Our priority remains to drive profitable volume growth and strong cash flow along with steady and sustainable improvement in operating margin for the year as a whole.”

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