Unilever beats first quarter sales forecasts, sticks to 2024 outlook

UNILEVER said on Thursday its first-quarter sales rose by a better than expected 4.4%, as one of the world's biggest consumer goods groups won back shoppers who had traded down to cheaper products.

Unilever, which makes products ranging from Dove soaps to Hellmann's mayonnaise, increased its sales volumes by 2.2%, its second quarter of growth after several of declining volumes. It raised prices by 2.2%.

Consumer goods companies are fighting to recover volumes lost after months of price increases introduced to pass higher input costs onto the customer. Prices had risen initially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Analysts had expected Unilever's sales volumes to rise by 1.2% and prices to increase by 1.8%. Its underlying sales growth was above the 3% estimate seen by the analysts in a company-provided consensus.

Unilever also maintained its full-year outlook and said it expects sales volumes to continue to improve.

"We have increasing confidence in our ability to deliver sustained volume growth as we accelerate gross margin expansion," CEO Hein Schumacher said in a statement.

Unilever's price hikes had gradually slowed in 2023, and that trend continued in the first quarter of this year. - Reuters

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