Shares in Unilever (LON:ULVR) have fallen into the red in London this morning, even as the blue-chip group posted first-quarter sales growth and unveiled plans to return cash to shareholders. The results come after the Anglo-Dutch group recently announced that it had chosen Rotterdam over London as its single corporate base in the wake of Kraft-Heinz’s failed takeover bid which prompted a review of the FTSE 100 group’s business.
As of 08:24 BST, Unilever’s share price had lost 2.05 percent to 3,864.00p. The group’s shares are underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having climbed marginally into positive territory and currently standing 0.20 percent higher at 7,332.28 points.
Unilever posts Q1 results
Unilever announced in a statement this morning that its underlying sales growth was 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, while underlying sales growth excluding spreads was 3.7 percent. The company hiked its quarterly dividend by eight percent to €0.39 per share and announced a share buyback programme of up to €6 billion starting next month.
“The first quarter demonstrates another good volume-driven performance across all three Divisions,” Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman commented in the statement, adding that for the full year, the FTSE 100 group continued to expect underlying sales growth of between three and five percent, and an improvement in underlying operating margin and cash flow.
Dutch move update
Unilever’s results come after the maker of Dove soap recently unveiled plans to change its corporate structure and have its main headquarters in the Netherlands. The company’s chief financial officer told Reuters that even though a small proportion of UK shareholders might be affected if the Anglo-Dutch group was no longer in the benchmark FTSE 100 index, most shareholders understood the reasoning for the decision and were supportive. Investors are due to vote on the move later this year.