PG Tips tea-to-Hellmann's mayonnaise maker Unilever (ULVR) is marked down 1.1% to £26.06 as it pushes out a mixed first quarter update. Though the consumer products powerhouse delivers another quarter of growth ahead of its markets, reported turnover tumbles 6.3% to €11.4 billion after a negative currency hit.


You can drill down into the finer details of the FTSE 100 foods-to-personal care products giant's statement here. Yet the salient points are that emerging markets are slowing and the devaluation of 'EM' currencies are creating material headwinds.


This echoes themes highlighted by international consumer products purveyors ranging from beer brewing behemoth SAB Miller (SAB) and Smirnoff-maker Diageo (DGE) to Imperial Leather soaps company PZ Cussons (PZC) over recent weeks.


CEO Paul Polman (pictured below) reports robust 6.6% sales growth in emerging markets, underpinned by the Knorr's soups-to-Magnum ice cream brand owner's enviable pricing power. Yet the £33.5 billion cap's well-regarded boss concedes emerging markets, which spoke for 56% of quarterly sales, are seeing slower demand, notably in South Asia and South East Asia. That said, strong performances were generated in China, Turkey and Indonesia, though the going was tough in Russia.




Unilever is unwavering in its strategy 'to invest in our brands so that they are well-placed to benefit from the significant longer term growth opportunity that will come from growing populations and higher disposable income'.


Some developed markets including North America remain weak, though Polman highlights improvement signs in Southern Europe. Unilever flags strong growth from home care, where household cleaning products such as Domestos and Cif performed well, as well as a robust turn from personal care, where deodorants offer a source of strength. Yet while the Cornetto-maker highlights 'an excellent start' to the European ice cream season, it warns weak margarine and dressings markets and this year's late Easter have held back the performance in foods.

Issue Date: 24 Apr 2014