Unilever has posted muted growth in the third quarter, missing City forecasts after a slowdown in key international markets and weaker growth in ice cream.
The Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s manufacturer reported weaker-than-expected sales in the past three months due to softer demand in China and India.
However, shares in the consumer giant increased after it posted sales of 13.3 billion euros (£11.5 billion) on the back of 2.9% underlying sales growth.
Total turnover increased by 5.8% as the business benefited from positive currency exchange rates and acquisitions.
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The company’s home care division drove growth, delivering 5.4% underlying sales growth as it was boosted by double-digit growth for Cif cleaning products.
Beauty and personal care sales increased by 2.8% after strong sales of deodorants.
Food and drink delivered lower growth as sales rose 1.7% due to higher pricing as volumes slipped lower.
The volume decline came as ice cream brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum, failed to match strong sales in 2018 due to cooler summer temperatures this year in Europe.
Unilever reported a “market slowdown” in India, while sales declined 0.3% in Europe due to “difficult” retail conditions.
Alan Jope, chief executive officer of Unilever, said: “We have maintained momentum in the quarter, with a good balance between volume and price. Emerging markets and home care have been the key growth drivers.
“We are committed to delivering superior long-term financial performance and balanced, compound growth of the top and bottom line through our sustainable business model.”
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “A weak showing for the shares heading into today’s announcement suggests investors were fearing worse.
“Nonetheless, the continuing pressure on sales in developed markets, which fell 0.1%, does reflect the structural challenge facing big brands as more of us look to buy local products which are perceived to have more integrity.”
Shares in the company increased 2.1% to 4,704p in early trading.