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First quarter results show solid growth led by emerging markets

Today, Unilever announced its results for the first quarter of 2019, which show underlying sales growth of 3.1%, led by our emerging market business which grew 5.0%.

  • Underlying sales grew 3.1% with 1.2% from volume and 1.9% from price
  • Underlying sales in emerging markets grew 5.0%
  • Turnover decreased 1.6% driven by the disposal of spreads
  • Quarterly dividend increased by 6% to €0.4104 per share

Commenting on the results, CEO Alan Jope says: “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 and price.

“Accelerating growth is our number one priority. It requires both great execution and a continued strategic shift into faster growth segments and channels. We saw good performance in key growth channels including out-of-home and e-commerce and benefited from stronger global innovations and faster and more relevant local innovation. The acquisitions we have made since 2015 collectively grew double-digit in the first quarter. With the leadership changes announced in March, we are building the right team to drive our growth agenda.

“For the full year we continue to expect underlying sales growth to be in the lower half of our multi-year 3% – 5% range, an improvement in underlying operating margin that keeps us on track for the 2020 target and another year of strong free cash flow.”

Our markets

We estimate that the markets in which we operate are growing around 3%. The emerging markets improved slightly compared with the fourth quarter led by South East Asia and Brazil. In India markets grew well albeit slightly slower than the fourth quarter. High inflation weighed on global market volume growth. Growth remains weak in the developed markets.

Unilever overall performance

Underlying sales growth was 3.1%, led by our emerging market business which grew 5.0%. Growth was balanced between volume and price and the pick-up in volume, compared to the fourth quarter, was helped by sustained momentum in South East Asia and North Asia.

Price growth from Argentina, which would have added 80bps to reported USG, was excluded due to its hyperinflationary status whilst the volume decline reduced group underlying sales growth by 10bps.

Turnover decreased 1.6% to €12.4 billion, driven by the disposal of spreads which we completed in July 2018.

Beauty & Personal Care

Rexona packshot

Underlying sales in our Beauty & Personal Care division grew 3.1%. Skin care and deodorants had a good start, whilst hair and skin cleansing grew modestly. Sales in oral care declined due to challenging market conditions.

Our global brands were helped by innovations including the launch of a new patented anti-perspirant technology in our Rexona Clinical Protection range and Dove foaming handwash in North America, with five times more moisturisers than the leading hand wash. Ponds and Sunsilk also grew well. A further increase in the number of local innovations is helping us to capture emerging trends better and faster than ever before, such as our St. Ives Facial Mists, an on-trend new format and Love Beauty & Planet continued to build scale.

Our acquisitions performed strongly – Dollar Shave Club rolled out a new ‘full-service model’ designed to make it easier for subscribers to add a full range of grooming products to their monthly regime and Equilibra, our nutritional supplements brand, which is not yet included in USG, positions us well to address the trend towards natural health, beauty and wellbeing.

Prestige delivered another quarter of double-digit growth and Schmidt’s and Quala, both now included in USG, grew strongly, helped by their expansion into other personal care categories.

Home Care

Seventh Generation

Underlying sales in our Home Care division grew 6.0%. Fabric solutions and home and hygiene had a strong start whilst fabric sensations grew modestly. The life essentials category was flat.

Our strategic focus on premium formats in fabric solutions led to double-digit growth in liquids and capsules and we saw good performance from a new range of Domestos toilet blocks. Many of our brands benefited from the naturals trend which helped to deliver good performance for Seventh Generation, Sunlight and our new Omo EcoActive range. We will further address the trend towards naturals with our newest brand Love, Home & Planet which launched this quarter. Blueair returned to growth.

Foods & Refreshment

Magnum vegan ice creams

Underlying sales in our Foods & Refreshment division grew 1.5%. Ice cream had a strong start to the year, whilst sales in tea and savoury were flat. Dressings, which was impacted by continued high promotional intensity and the later timing of Easter, declined.

Our actions to modernise our portfolio to meet the trends towards authentic, organic and natural, healthy and on-the-go products are working, with good performance on bouillons and snack pots and encouraging early performance of a new range of Knorr protein and fibre rich soups in Turkey. Hellmann’s continued to be held back by promotional intensity particularly in the US. Challenges in developed market black tea offset good growth from Pukka, our new organic Lipton range and green tea in India.

Innovation continued to drive strong performance in ice cream helped by the roll out of the Kinder® range across Europe, while Magnum was helped by innovations such as a new white chocolate & cookie variant. Sir Kensington’s, Pukka and Weis were all up double-digits, helped by distribution gains.

Unilever PLC

Unilever House
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY
United Kingdom


Press-Office.London@Unilever.com

Unilever NV

Weena 455
3013AL Rotterdam

www.unilever.nl

+31 (0) 10 217 4000
mediarelations.rotterdam@Unilever.com

Safe Harbour

Where relevant, these actions are subject to the appropriate consultations and approvals.

This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including 'forward-looking statements' within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as 'will', 'aim', 'expects', 'anticipates', 'intends', 'looks', 'believes', 'vision', or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Unilever Group (the 'Group'). They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.

Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are: Unilever's global brands not meeting consumer preferences; Unilever's ability to innovate and remain competitive; Unilever's investment choices in its portfolio management; inability to find sustainable solutions to support long-term growth; the effect of climate change on Unilever's business; customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain; the cost of raw materials and commodities; the production of safe and high quality products; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; successful execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic and political risks and natural disasters; financial risks; failure to meet high and ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this announcement. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group's filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the Annual Report on Form 20-F 2018 and the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2018.

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