China, home cooks help Unilever make better predictions By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: TRESemme products, a brand of Unilever Plc, can be seen on a shelf


(Reuters) -Unilever beat quarterly sales forecast on Thursday, helped by a home cooking recovery in coronavirus lockouts and a strong economic recovery in China, and said it would buy back up to € 3 billion ($ 3.6 billion) of shares as of May.

Dove soap and ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s said underlying sales rose 5.7% in the three months to the end of March, beating analysts’ average forecast of 3. 9%, according to a company consensus.

“We had a good start to the year. We are growing faster than our markets,” CFO Graeme Pitkethly told reporters.

The group was confident of achieving full-year underlying sales growth within its mid-term target range of 3 to 5%, with the first half of the year being at the high end. Some analysts had doubted that it would reach that target this year.

Unilever (NYSE 🙂 also said it expects a slight increase in underlying operating margin this year and is making good progress in separating its beauty and Elida tea businesses.

Underlying sales of the group’s food and refreshments business, where brands include Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Knorr soups, jumped 9.8% in the quarter.

Growth was double-digit in China, which recovered strongly from a pandemic-hit quarter to the same period last year.

(1 USD = 0.8246 euros)

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