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Unilever rakes in cool cash with Q3 ice cream sales
[THE HAGUE] Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever said Thursday sales were up for the third quarter, boosted by a bumper European ice cream season and positive currency effects.
The Rotterdam-based group posted a 9.4 per cent rise in turnover to 13.4 billion euros (US$15.3 billion) saying its "focus to build the company for the long term is paying off." Unilever, which owns famous brands such as Magnum and Ben & Jerry's said ice cream "delivered strong growth helped by better weather than last year," particularly in Europe.
It said it would now focus on pushing specialised ice cream ranges on the European and North American markets such as Magnum Pink and Black and Ben & Jerry's core cookie range.
Unilever added it was also "building its presence" elsewhere in the refreshment market by extending its Lipton and PG tips tea selections to include fruit, herbal and other speciality teas. It has launched its first tea brewing machine in France.
The group - whose sales are often seen as a reflector of spending power in many parts of the world- said volumes were up across the globe in the third quarter.
Underlying sales grew by 8.4 per cent in emerging markets, Unilever said.
China saw double-digit growth boosted among other things by "the rapid development of online sales," while in Turkey double-digit growth was driven by selling ice cream, leaf tea and hair care products.
Sales figures in Latin America climbed as Unilever increased prices while North America "returned to growth boosted by both volume and price." In Europe, "strong volume growth more than offset continued price deflation across our markets." Growth was especially good in Britain, Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, Unilever said.
Unilever chief executive Paul Polman however cautioned that despite sales rises, "we continue to see soft global markets with no immediate signs of getting help from an improved global economy." The group expected "underlying sales growth for the year towards the upper 2-4 percent range," steady improvements in Unilever's operating margins and strong cash flows, Polman added.
Unilever stock was up by around 3.5 per cent to almost 39 euros per share on early morning trade on the Amsterdam stock exchange's AEX index.