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Unilever Reports Q4, 2010 Full Year Financials

Posted: February 3, 2011

Unilever reported its 2010 full year and fourth quarter financial results, highlighting a strong year that saw the company make acquisitions and position itself for a further global presence in coming years. The full year highlights include turnover up 11.1% at €44.3 billion, with 7.3% due to currency, as well as underlying volume growth of 5.8% from underlying sales growth of 4.1% and underlying price growth of 1.6%. Additionally, in-quarter pricing was flat for first nine months, and positive in the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter highlights include underlying volume growth of 5.1%, with underlying sales growth at 5.1% and underlying price growth flat from positive in-quarter pricing.

According to the company, 2010 results were strong despite intense competition, weak consumer confidence in many markets, and the impact of rising commodities costs in the second half. Whilst markets showed little or no growth in the developed economies, emerging market growth remained healthy. Unilever grew its volumes ahead of the market in all regions and finished the year strongly despite a strong prior year comparator. Whilst in-quarter pricing was flat throughout much of the year, it became positive in the fourth quarter as the company responded to increasing commodity costs. Savings programs delivered strongly across both supply chain and indirects, and Unilever also invested in product quality and significantly increased the investment behind its brands whilst improving advertising quality.

Additionally, the acquisition of Sara Lee’s personal care business was completed during the fourth quarter, and the proposed acquisition of Alberto Culver has received shareholder approval and now awaits approval of the relevant regulatory authorities.

All categories grew volume and generated positive underlying sales growth in 2010, ending the year on a strong note. Almost all of Unilever’s major brands grew volume on the back of bigger, better innovations rolled out more quickly across more markets. Dove Men+Care is now in more than 30 markets and Dove Damage Therapy hair care products have reached 22 markets. In addition the company has accelerated the rates at which it is extending its brands into new markets, with more than 100 new launches in the year.

Specifically for the personal care category, deodorants capped another excellent year for Unilever with a strong quarter driven by Dove Men+Care, the continued strengthening of the Rexona brand and the launch toward the end of the year of the latest Axe variant, Excite. Hair continued to make good progress with strong growth in North America, China, Southeast Asia and India as a result of the rollout of Dove Damage Therapy, the continued rollout of Clear in Latin America and the relaunch of Clear in Asia. TiGi continued to perform well ahead of the professional market growth. Skin delivered a solid quarter driven by continued momentum on Dove Nutrium moisture, Dove Men+Care, the latest Axe shower variant Rise, which contributed to record Axe shower market shares in the United States, and the rollout of Lifebuoy and Vaseline into new countries. The company’s oral business delivered a solid year despite a heightened level of competitive activity. Signal Sensitive Expert was launched in France and White Now continues to do well across many markets including Vietnam and the Philippines.