Unilever (ULVR) share price rises as group unveils increased sales and turnover in wake of collapsed Kraft Heinz takeover talks

Caitlin Morrison
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Unilever is selling off its spreads business (Source: Getty)

Unilever, the FTSE-listed Dutch owner of household brands such as Marmite, Hellman's and Cup-a-Soup, has reported an increase in turnover and sales.

The figures

Turnover increased 6.1 per cent to €13.3bn (£11.1bn), and the firm said this included a positive currency impact of 2.4 per cent.

Turnover excluding Unilever's spreads business, which includes brands like Flora and Stork and is set to be sold, was €12.6bn.

Underlying sales were up 2.9 per cent, with the price up three per cent.

The group has raised its quarterly dividend by 12 per cent to €0.3585.

Shares in Unilever were up 1.5 per cent in early trading.

Why it's interesting

Unilever was approached in February by US rival Kraft Heinz, with a $143bn (£111bn) takeover offer, sending shares shooting up 15 per cent.

However, deal talks fell apart days after news of the bid broke, pushing the stock back down.

In the wake of the proposed merger collapsing, Unilever said the events had "highlighted the need to capture more quickly the value we see in Unilever" and revealed it would conduct a business review. Selling the spreads business is part of this shake-up.

What Unilever said

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

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

"The change programme 'Connected for Growth' which we started implementing in the autumn last year is starting to bear fruit and is making Unilever more agile and closer to the local markets, unlocking both further growth and margin."

Polman said the actions the group is taking will keep it "on track for another year of underlying sales growth ahead of our markets, in the three to five per cent range".

"We also expect an improvement in underlying operating margin this year," he said.

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