Another good quarterly performance against the backdrop of a continuing tough economic environment.
Today (3 November), Unilever announced its results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2011.
- Turnover was €12.1 billion in the third quarter and €34.9 billion at nine months
- Underlying sales growth* was 7.8% in the third quarter and 6.5% at nine months
- Underlying volume growth was 1.9% in the third quarter and 2.1% at nine months
Emerging markets were up 13.1% in the third quarter and strong growth was reported across all categories, in particular Personal Care at 11.3%.
A strongly positive contribution to turnover growth, of 2.2% in the quarter, came from bolt-on acquisitions with the integration of the Sara Lee body care and Alberto Culver businesses largely complete.
The recently announced acquisition of Concern Kalina – the leading local personal care company in Russia – will significantly strengthen the business in this important market.
Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Polman said: “I am pleased to report another good quarterly performance, with particularly strong growth in Personal Care and the emerging markets, reinforcing our position as the emerging markets consumer goods company.
“Growth was strong across all categories and helped by technology-based innovation, now routinely rolled out quickly to multiple markets. In addition we are increasingly driving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan as an integral part of the way we do business.”
Personal Care and Home Care delivered the strongest nine month underlying sales growth at 7.5% each. Ice cream & Beverages followed at 5.5% and Savoury, Dressings & Spreads at 5.4%.
Asia Africa CEE: Third quarter underlying sales growth was 12.4% with underlying volume growth at 5%. The region delivered strong growth ahead of the market, powered by China, India, Indonesia and Turkey. Natural disasters impacted the Philippines and Thailand while Japan continues to recover after the earthquake and Tsunami earlier in the year. Geo-political uncertainty in North Africa has also had an impact and has slowed growth in the sub-region.
The Americas: Third quarter underlying sales growth was 9.1% with underlying volume growth at 2.1%. Growth in North America was flattered by the impact of the sales brought forward prior to the major SAP upgrade which took place at the end of the quarter. Adjusting for this impact, underlying sales growth was low single digit with positive price offset by negative volumes. Growth in Latin America accelerated to more than 10%, driven by price but also reflecting robust volume growth.
Western Europe: Third quarter underlying sales growth was -0.5% with underlying volume growth at -2.9%. Despite the weak state of many European economies, market share performance was robust both in volume and value terms. Tea, ice cream, deodorants and laundry gained value share. France and the UK continue to perform well in terms of growth and market share. However conditions in southern Europe remain depressed.
In conclusion Paul said: “These results are especially encouraging against the backdrop of very uncertain consumer demand, hugely volatile commodity markets, natural disasters and geo-political uncertainty in many parts of the world.
“Our long term priorities remain: to deliver profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable underlying operating margin improvement and strong cash flow.”
*Underlying sales growth is calculated by excluding the effect of acquisitions, disposals and currency movements.