Unilever posts 'solid performance' in half-year results

By Laura Mullan
Unilever said it had a “solid performance” in the first half of 2018, despite some challenging markets. The maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream...

Unilever said it had a “solid performance” in the first half of 2018, despite some challenging markets. 

The maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann's mayonnaise said that it saw underlying sales growth of 2.7%, excluding its recently divested spreads business. 

Meanwhile, its emerging markets saw underlying sales climb 4.1%.

However, the Anglo-Dutch firm noted that tucker's strike in Brazil adversely affected underlying sales growth. 

Despite this, Unilever says it remains on track for its 2020 goals and its full-year guidance remains unchanged. 

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For 2018, Unilever expects underlying sales growth of between 3% and 5%, an improvement in underlying operating margin and strong cash flow. 

Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman said:said: “Our first half results show solid volume-driven growth across all three divisions, which was achieved despite the effects of an extended truckers’ strike in Brazil, one of our biggest markets. 

“Growth was driven by strong innovation and continued expansion in future growth markets. The margin improvement was of high quality and in line with our strategy, driven by further gross margin progression, increased investment behind our brands and strong savings delivery.”

Polman also highlighted that the firm has returned €3bn ($3.48bn) of its €6bn ($6.95bn) share buyback programme, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. 

“The Connected 4 Growth change programme – which makes our organisation more agile and resilient – is driving the step-up in our innovation and savings programmes,” he said.

“As part of the continued portfolio evolution, we completed the exit from spreads on 2 July 2018. In anticipation of the disposal proceeds, we have already returned €3 billion as part of our €6 billion share buyback programme that will complete before the end of the year.”

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