Shares in Unilever (LON:ULVR) have gained more than one percent in London this morning after the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group posted better-than-expected quarterly sales and hiked its payout to shareholders as promised in a recent review. The update comes in the wake of Kraft Heinz’s failed takeover bid earlier this year.
As of 09:20 BST, Unilever’s share price had added 1.13 percent to 3,982.00p, outperforming the broader London market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having slipped marginally into the red and currently standing 0.05 percent lower at 7,110.85 points. The group’s shares have gained just under 20 percent over the past year, and are up by some 20 percent in the year-to-date.
Unilever announced in a statement this morning that its underlying sales had increased by 2.9 percent in the first three months of the year. Reuters notes that the result is above analyst forecasts for two-percent growth. The company’s turnover meanwhile grew by 6.1 percent to €13.3 billion, including a positive currency impact of 2.4 percent.
“The first quarter shows growth once more ahead of our markets,” the company’s chief executive Paul Polman commented in the statement, adding that the actions Unilever was taking “keep us on track for another year of underlying sales growth ahead of our markets, in the 3 - 5% range”.
Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly meanwhile told Reuters that performance in the second half of the year should be better than in the first half, and expressed optimism about the global economy.
“We are seeing positive signs in the economy overall,” he pointed out, talking about a “bottoming out” of currency devaluations in large emerging markets that are key for Unilever including India, Indonesia and Brazil.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group further lifted its payout to shareholders by 12 percent, as promised in the outcome of its recent review prompted by Kraft Heinz’s failed takeover bid. Unilever has also promised to offload its Spreads business and launch a €5-billion share buyback this year.