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Unilever released its results for the half year and second quarter 2012. Solid and consistent first half results provide further evidence that the company is making progress in the transformation of Unilever to a sustainable growth company.
The first-half highlights include turnover up 11.5% at €25.4 billion with a positive impact from foreign exchange of 1.9% and acquisitions net of disposals of 2.2%, as well as first-half underlying sales growth of 7% comprising volume growth of 2.8% and price growth of 4.1%. Second quarter underlying sales growth was at 5.8%. Additionally, emerging markets underlying sales growth was up 11.4% in the first half and 11% in the second quarter, and the company’s core operating margin was flat due to increased advertising and promotions investment behind Unilever brands.
The first-half results reflect a strong performance in markets that remain challenging. Consumer confidence remains fragile and the competitive environment intense. The value growth of the company’s markets is driven largely by pricing and reflects the combination of strong growth in emerging markets and sluggish growth in the developed markets where volume growth continues to be negative. In this context, all of Unilever’s categories grew, driven by strong innovations and the roll-out of its brands into new markets.
Commenting on the results, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, “Despite deteriorating global economic conditions and a competitive environment which remains intense, we again delivered volume growth ahead of our markets and gained value share across the majority of our business. Our performance reflects continued investment in innovation, brand-building and people, whilst keeping discipline on both costs and execution.”
Specifically for Unilever’s personal care division, hair delivered strong double-digit growth driven by Dove, with the continuing success of Dove Damage Therapy, and Clear, benefiting from the continuing success of its relaunch as a premium scalp expert. The expansion of the company's brands into new markets is also contributing strongly, with the launch of Clear in the US, TreSemmé in Brazil, Dove Hair in the Philippines, and the introduction of Axe Hair in Europe.
Skin cleansing delivered strong growth ahead of markets as well, with Dove, Lux and Lifebuoy all performing well. Dove benefited from the continuing success of Nutrium Moisture shower gels and the Dove Men+Care range, which was recently extended to Brazil. Dove bars were launched in Indonesia and Lifebuoy Clini-Care 10 has made an excellent start in India. In skin care, the launch of Simple in the US is making good progress, and Vaseline maintained strong momentum, underpinned by the success of the Total Moisture range. Concern Kalina in Russia also is performing well.
Deodorants growth reflected a good performance from Dove on the back of successful innovations and consistent advertising and a good performance from Axe Anarchy. Oral care growth was mid-single digit, reflecting in-market activities which are weighted to the second half. In the second quarter, the company’s new Expert Protection range was launched under the Signal brand in France and under the Pepsodent brand in India.