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Unilever’s profit dips amid Brazilian truck strike and currency fluctuations

  • The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise said underlying sales rose 1.9 percent, excluding the recently divested spreads business.
  • For the first half of the year, underlying sales growth excluding spreads was 2.7 percent, below estimates of 3 percent.

Consumer goods maker Unilever UNA-NL reported lower-than-expected second quarter sales on Thursday, hurt by a Brazilian transport strike and weak pricing.

The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise said underlying sales rose 1.9 percent, excluding the recently divested spreads business.

On that basis, analysts on average were expecting growth of 2.3 percent.

“What you see behind these results is actually a strengthening again of the volume component which for us is the most important,” Unilever CEO Paul Polman told CNBC’s Willem Marx on Thursday.

“When we had a lot of pricing (power), analysts were worried about us not having volume. Now we have four quarters in a row of continuous volume expansion (and) some analysts are worried about our pricing power. I just wonder if they are always worried,” he added.

For the first half of the year, underlying sales growth excluding spreads was 2.7 percent, below estimates of 3 percent.

First-half turnover excluding spreads fell 4.8 percent to 24.9 billion euros ($28.95 billion), hurt by currency fluctuations. The company stood by its forecast for full-year growth of 3 to 5 percent, helped by price increases.

Underlying earnings per share for the first half rose 7.8 percent to 1.22 euros.

When asked whether he personally would like to continue working as Unilever's chief executive beyond 2020, Polman replied: “No, I think once you have been 10 years in a job it is a good time period and if someone is ready to take the job then that is very healthy for companies.”

“Change is good, I don’t have a problem with that,” he added. Polman refused to comment on who might replace him as chief executive.



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