Unilever has announced excellent growth figures for this year's second quarter: the British-Dutch concern saw its underlying sales grow 7.1% (for the first half year 5.7%). In the first six months of this year, Unilever's profits grew even 9%.
Excellent results for all divisions
Savoury, Dressings & Spreads was the fastest growing category (+7.9%), before Ice cream & Beverages (7.6%), Home care (7.4%) and Personal care (5.8%). Due to a more modest first quarter, the results for the first six months of 2011 were a little lower, with +5.0% for Savoury, Dressings and Spreads as slowest grower and +6.7% for Home Care as fastest grower. For the former, the slower growth can be explained by a zero-growth in volume.
In total, 2.2 of the 5.7% underlying sales growth was caused by volume growth, 3.5 by price growth. China and India saw a double digit growth and also Egypt, South Africa and Russia performed well. The combined area of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe grew 9%, well balanced between volume and price growth. The latter was not the case for the Americas, where volume growth was almost zero – while price growth was 5%. In Western Europe, both growths were slower, with 0.2% and 1.1% respectively.
Virtually no influence of higher costs
Unilever's total turnover over the first six months of 2011 grew 4.1% to 22.8 billion euro, while net profits grew 9% to 2.4 billion. Operating margins went down 0.2%, far lower than what analysts had expected: the influence of expensive raw materials was almost completely compensated by higher prices and lower costs – especially in advertising.
“We are making encouraging progress in the transformation of Unilever to a sustainable growth company”, said CEO Paul Polman. “In a tough and volatile environment we have again delivered strong growth. Volumes were robust and in line with the market, despite having taken price increases. This shows the strength of our brands and innovations.”