Source - SMW
Unilever continued to expect full-year underlying sales growth to be in the lower half of its multi-year 3-5% range, it said as it reported that underlying first-quarter sales grew 3.1%.

Led by South East Asia and Brazil, underlying sales in emerging markets performed even better, up 5%. The company said that growth remained weak in the developed markets.

Split into sector, beauty & personal care grew 3.1% as declining sales in oral care due to challenging market conditions offset the growth in skin care and deodorants. Home care and foods and refreshment grew 6% and 1.5%, respectively.

Turnover, meanwhile, fell 1.6% to €12.4bn, driven by the disposal of spreads completed last July.

"We have delivered a solid start that keeps us on track for our full year expectations. Growth was led by emerging markets and was balanced between volume (up 1.2%) and price (up 1.9%)," said CEO Alan Jope, adding that accelerating growth was the company's "number one priority".

The company said it would pay a quarterly dividend of €0.4104 per share, an increase of 6%.

Commenting on the investigations it is involved in by national competition authorities, including those within Italy, Greece and South Africa, Unilever said that the proceedings and investigations were at various stages and concerned a variety of product markets. Where appropriate, it would make provisions and disclose contingent liabilities in relation to such matters.