CONSUMER goods giant Unilever beat forecasts with an 8.4 per cent rise in first-quarter sales yesterday, helped by price hikes and emerging market growth.
The Anglo-Dutch maker of brands like Dove and <a href="http://www.knorr.co.uk/" target="_new">Knorr</a> is battling high input costs from rising commodity prices such as crude and vegetable oils, and slow growth in developed nations.
It also cautioned that emerging market growth has started to slow especially in eastern Europe and Russia.
"The competition is intense, we have seen some moderation in emerging market growth while developed markets remain muted, but we have had a good start to the year and we are becoming more competitive,” finance director Jean-Marc Huet said.
The company, with annual sales of €46.5bn, reported that first-quarter underlying sales rose 8.4 per cent beating a company-compiled forecast of 6.4 per cent, and compared to growth of 6.5 per cent in 2011.
Emerging markets, which make up 56 per cent of Unilever’s business, grew 11.9 per cent.
Unilever, which also sells Lipton tea, Ragu sauces and Blue Band margarine, reported overall three-month turnover rose 11.9 per cent to €12.1bn and it paid a quarterly dividend of €0.243 a share, up eight per cent from the previous year.
City A.M. Reporter