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Unilever hikes dividend as Q1 sales creep higher

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Unilever PLC, the maker of consumer products such as Dove soaps, Surf detergent, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, has reported a small rise in first quarter sales and says it will increase its quarterly dividend by 11 percent.

In a trading update published Thursday, the company says sales rose 0.2 percent to 12.2 billion euros ($15.9 billion) in the quarter. Excluding currency effects, the increase would have been 3.5 percent.

Sales grew in the double-digits in developing countries, were about flat in North America, and declined in Europe.

CEO Paul Polman said in a statement the results show Unilever is winning market share.

Unilever says it will pay a 0.269 euro dividend per share per quarter in 2013, up from 0.243 per quarter in 2012.