Investors will eye Unilever’s (LON:ULVR) first-quarter results in the shortened Easter week, with analysts expecting sales growth at the Lipton tea and Dove soap owner to come in below the company’s target range. The update will come as the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant faces renewed pressure to abandon the idea of ditching its dual headquarters in favour of the Netherlands.
Unilever’s share price has fallen deep into the red in today’s session, having given up 1.45 percent to 4,329.50p as of 14:40 BST. The stock is underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index standing 0.07 percent better off at 4,329.50 points. The group’s shares have added more than 10 percent to their value over the past year, as compared with about a 2.3-percent gain in the Footsie.
Unilever results preview
Unilever is scheduled to update investors on its first-quarter performance on Thursday and Proactive Investors reports that Deutsche Bank forecasts a 2.6-percent rise in like-for-like sales, below the consumer goods giant’s three-to-five percent range, due to more challenging comparatives. The broker further expects growth in the first three months of the year to have been driven by price rather than volumes.
The home care division is forecast to be the strongest with five percent underlying sales growth followed by personal care up three percent and foods and refreshments up by one percent.
Earlier this year, Unilever posted underlying sales growth of 2.9 percent for 2018, and cautioned that market conditions were likely to remain challenging.
Analyst ratings update
Barclays initiated coverage of Unilever with an ‘underweight’ rating and a price target of 3,950p this week, while earlier this month, Jefferies reaffirmed the company as a ‘hold,’ valuing the shares at 4,380p. According to MarketBeat, the blue-chip group currently has a consensus ‘hold’ rating and an average price target of 4,234.09p.