British-Dutch multinational Unilever has not sold as many products over the past year as analysts had expected. Particularly its fourth quarter was disappointing, but profit did grow nevertheless.
48.4 billion euro turnover
On a like-for-like basis, Unilever managed a 2.9 % turnover increase in 2014: 1 % was because of increased volumes, while 1.9 % came through price hikes. Nevertheless, it is below analyst expectations as they expected a 3.1 % growth. Changing all currencies back to (the relatively strong) euro resulted in a 48.4 billion euro turnover, which is 2.7 % lower than in 2013.
The group's fourth quarter turnover was disappointing, as its 2.1 % increase was 0.5 % below what analysts had expected. On top of that, the growth was mostly because of higher prices (+ 2.5 %) as volumes dropped 0.4 %.
Turnover growth in the emerging markets slowed down to + 5.7 %, while European and North American turnover dropped 0.8 %. Still, the company has managed growth in three of its four divisions: Personal Care (shampoo, deodorant, shower products), Refreshment (ice and drinks) and Home Care (care, laundry products, soap). Foods (sauces, butter, margarine) experienced a slight turnover drop, partly because of lower margarine demand.
Probably no improvement in 2015
Despite the disappointing sales, Unilever's net profit was remarkably higher than anticipated "thanks to excellent cost control". It managed a 5.5 billion euro turnover in 2015, half a billion more than what analysts had forecast and 5 % better than in 2013.
CEO Paul Polman does not really expect 2015 results to improve on the current numbers. Particularly the first few months of 2015 are still to produce "weak results", according to the CEO.