Unilever released its results for the fourth quarter and full year 2012. Both showed profitable growth, ahead of markets.
CEO Paul Polman said: “These results have been achieved in tough economic conditions, with volatile commodity costs and in an intensely competitive environment. They reflect the progress made in delivering bigger, better innovations and rolling them out faster, improving our execution in the market place and increased discipline driving savings in all areas of the business."
Polman continued, "We remain focused on achieving another year of profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable core operating margin improvement and strong cash flow.”
Highlights from the year include:
An increase in turnover by 10.5% to €51.3 billion with a positive impact from foreign exchange of 2.2% and acquisitions net of disposals of 1.1%.
Underlying sales grew by 6.9%, comprising volume growth of 3.4% and price growth of 3.3%.
Emerging markets underlying sales growth 11.4% now representing 55% of turnover.
Core operating margin was also up 30bps to 13.8%; gross margin up 10bps; and advertising and promotions were up €470 million at constant exchange rates.
And, core earnings per share increased by 11% to €1.57, with free cash flow of €4.3 billion.
In the personal care category, Unilever says that several brands have contributed to its positive track record over the past year.
Sales of hair products finished the year with a strong quarter of double-digit growth. Tresemme had an excellent quarter, reflecting strength in Brazil and the impact of the recent launches in Indonesia and India. Dove Hair benefited from the continued success of Dove Damage Therapy.
Clear also grew strongly, and Sunsilk became a €1 billion brand -- driven by the growth of the core business coupled with the success of recent innovations such as the natural oils range.
Skin care products are also doing well, and part of its success is due to innovation. Dove Nutrium Moisture continues to drive growth in body wash. The Dove Purely Pampering range is now being extended to hand & body. Dove Men+Care continued to build sales and was extended to male face care in the UK.
The Lux brand had broad-based growth in emerging markets, due to its successful relaunch that reflected an improvement in product quality and the use of fine fragrances, as well as strong advertising.
In the deoderant category, Rexona deoderant performed well. There was notable success of Maximum Protection in Latin America and the extension of the MotionSense technology to North America.
Dove deodorant was underpinned by a strong innovation programme and the rollout of Dove Men+Care.