Unilever first quarter results surprise investors

Unilever posted better than expected first quarter results on Thursday, surprising investors after lacklustre performance last year.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company reported strong sales growth and earnings.

Chief Financial Officer Jean Marc Huet said that “conditions overall remain challenging” but the firm is beginning to see “more tailwinds than headwinds” in its markets.

Sales for the period surged by 12.3% up to £9.2 billion.

Unilever Chief Executive, Paul Polman, said:

“We have had a good start to the year, helped by favourable currency movements but also an improvement in underlying sales.

“This is despite a continued challenging trading environment in many parts of the world.

“The actions we have been taking to put us on track for higher levels of growth are starting to pay off.

“We have further strengthened the innovation pipeline, and are increasing investment behind the core of our brands, as well as extending into premium segments and new markets.”

Polman added:

“We continuously strengthen our go-to-market capabilities and sharpen our execution.

He added: “Despite high levels of currency and commodity volatility, we are now starting to see more tailwinds than headwinds in our markets, and expect our initiatives to deliver a further improvement in volume growth in the remainder of the year.

“We remain focussed on competitive, profitable, consistent and responsible growth.

“Our priorities continue to be volume growth ahead of our markets, steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow.

“This is our model for long-term value creation, as evidenced by today’s consistent dividend increase.”