[LONDON] Unilever reported second-quarter sales growth that slightly beat estimates as the maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream delivered gains in sales of deodorants and haircare products.
Underlying revenue rose 4.7 per cent, London- and Rotterdam-based Unilever said Thursday, compared with the 4.5 per cent median estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Growth remained steady after the first quarter's 4.7 per cent uptick, yet the gains came mostly from higher prices for its goods as sales volumes slowed from the first quarter.
"We have been preparing ourselves for tougher market conditions in 2016 and do not see any sign of an improving global economy," chief executive officer Paul Polman said in a statement.
Unilever shares have climbed about 10 per cent since Britain's vote to leave the European Union, benefiting from the potential boost to earnings from the falling pound.
Sales outside the UK account for more than 90 per cent of the company's revenue. Unilever is seeking to offset retailer discounting by expanding its e-commerce business and this week bought mail-order razor company Dollar Shave Club in a US$1 billion deal.
Units sold in the period rose 1.8 per cent, contradicting the company's forecast that sales volume would improve over the course of the year. Markets slowed in the quarter, Unilever said, with low growth in emerging regions and declines in both Europe and North America.
Underlying sales exclude acquisitions, divestments, and currency fluctuations.