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Unilever Beats Quarterly Forecasts Helped By Home Cooking And China Recovery

Unilever Beats Quarterly Forecasts Helped By Home Cooking And China Recovery
A strong recovery of the Chinese economy as well as increased cooking at home by consumers forced to stay back home because of the Covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions helped Unilever to comfortably beat quarterly sales forecasts on Thursday.
The company said that starting in May this year, it would start top a share buy back program  which would be for as much as 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion).
There was a 5 per cent year on year growth in the underlying sales of the company in the  three months to the end of March which was higher than the average analysts forecast of 3.9 per cent according to a company supplied consensus said the maker of Dove soap and Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
"We have had a good start to the year. We are growing faster than our markets," the company’s finance chief Graeme Pitkethly told reporters.
Confidence was also expressed by the company of being able to deliver growth in its underlying sales for the full year of 2021 within its mid-term target range of 3 to 5 per cent while it would likely be around the top of the range for the first half of the year.  There were however doubts expressed by some analysts about whether the company would be able to hit that goal this year.
There are also expectations within the company of achieving a slight growth in its underlying operating margin for the entire year, Unilever said, and added that it good progress was being made by it in separating its Elida beauty and tea businesses.
There was a 9.8 per cent growth in the underlying sales in the group's food and refreshments business – which includes products under the brands such as Hellmann's mayonnaise and Knorr soups, during the latest completed quarter. This was driven by strong growth in demand for home consumption in North America and Europe.
There was a 9.4 per cent growth in the business of the company in the emerging markets which was led by China and India which showed double digit growths, after the countries started to t emerge from strict pandemic lockdowns last year.
However it is likely that some business of the company would be hit in India because of the current surge in the second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping across India.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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