Unilever falls short of sales target for 2016

Turnover at consumer goods maker reaches €13.1bn in the fourth quarter

Unilever: the maker of Marmite spread,  Dove soap and  Knorr soup blamed  a weak economy in Brazil for lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Unilever: the maker of Marmite spread, Dove soap and Knorr soup blamed a weak economy in Brazil for lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

 

Unilever reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales on Thursday. The consumer goods maker blamed the Indian government’s withdrawal of high-value notes and a weak economy in Brazil.

The manufacturer of Dove soap, Knorr soup and Marmite spread said those issues would continue to hurt results in the first part of the new year, helping to push the company’s shares down 4.5 per cent, its worst day in nearly a year.

The company said underlying sales rose 2.2 per cent in the quarter. That compared with analysts’ average expectation of 2.8 per cent and growth of 3.2 per cent in the third quarter and 4.7 per cent in the first half.

Turnover was €13.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up from €12.9 billion in the year-earlier period.

Results were ahead of expectations on second-half margins, earnings per share growth and free cash flow, but were overshadowed by the sales figure.

For the full year, sales growth was 3.7 per cent, below the 3.9 per cent analysts were expecting.

In Europe, Unilever’s fourth-quarter sales fell 2.3 per cent, hurt by weak volumes and continued price deflation in many markets.

– (PA)