Sales At Unilever Plc Miss Forecasts

Shares in Unilever (LSE: ULVR) (NYSE: UL.US) fell over 2% in early trade this morning, following the release of half-year results for the year to date.

The consumer-goods giant saw underlying sales growth of 5%, which was just below market expectations. Emerging markets were up 10.3%, though the company stated that growth was slowing here as “macro-economic headwinds influence consumer behaviour”.

Management was keen to underline the fact that they still sustained profitable growth momentum despite tougher markets, with chief executive officer Paul Polman taking care to mention the “transformation of Unilever to a sustainable growth company”, which he states is fully on track. Polman went on to comment:

“Our innovation pipeline is robust which will be vital as we navigate the slowdown in many parts of the world… we are delivering more profitable innovations, improving mix and continuing to apply a rigorous approach to supply chain costs and savings.

“The tougher economic environment and reinvigorated competition require us to set the bar higher on innovation and to increase investment behind our brands. At the same time we need to continue to take costs out of the system to help finance this investment.”

Elsewhere, turnover grew 0.4% at €25.5bn and core operating margin lifted 40bps to 14%. It was also announced that core earnings per share rose 4% to €0.76 and shareholders are to receive a quarterly dividend of €0.269 per share in September.

Unilever is one of a select group of blue chips pinpointed as FTSE 100 winners by our top analysts within the very latest free Motley Fool report.

You see, our analysts believe this group of elite companies will deliver superior long-term earnings and income growth. Such is their conviction about the quality of these businesses that they’ve called the report “5 Shares To Retire On“.

You can download this free report right now — simply click here.

> Sam does not own shares in Unilever. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Unilever.