Unilever reports raised sales with increased prices
Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever reported on Thursday sales exceeding 10 billion euros for the first quarter of 2011, bolstered by volume growth and higher sales prices.
The total of 10.86 billion euros ($15.73 billion) represented an increase of seven percent, the company said in a statement.
It was slightly lower than forecast by analysts polled by Dow Jones newswires, who expected a turnover of 10.96 billion euros.
The company's underlying sales growth was 4.3 percent, it added.
Unilever said volume growth during the first quarter of 2011 rose by 2.5 percent compared to the level at the same time last year, while prices were up by 1.8 percent.
Unilever, which decided not to publish its first-quarter net profit, said that although volumes continued to grow, the outcome reflected price increases and a sluggishness in developed markets.
"All categories are growing, driven by a particularly strong performance in emerging markets," it said.
The group, which sells teas including Lipton, Knorr soups and Rexona deodorants, said a mild winter held back soup sales in Europe, but that PF Chang's restaurant quality frozen meals continued to do well in the United States.
It welcomed increases in the growth of its ice cream sales, including in emerging markets, saying its brands like Magnum, recently introduced in Indonesia - and Cornetto - were doing particularly well.
Unilever expected rising crude oil prices in particlular, to put more pressure on sales prices in 2011, but said it hoped a cost reduction programme would save the company about 1.3 billion euros this year.
© 2011 AFP