By Matteo Castia

 

-- Unilever's first-quarter turnover decline was due to a negative currency-related impact

-- The company expects full-year underlying sales growth to meet its 3% to 5% multiyear target

-- Unilever will start a share-buyback program in May of up to EUR3.0 billion

 

Unilever PLC said Thursday that turnover in the first quarter was hurt by unfavorable currency fluctuations but that it still expects full-year sales to meet its multiyear growth targets, and that it will start a share-buyback program next month.

The Anglo-Dutch multisector retailer--which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap and Cif and Domestos cleaning products--said first-quarter revenue fell 0.9% on the year to 12.3 billion euros ($14.91 billion). The fall was largely caused by an 8% negative currency-related impact, it said.

Underlying sales growth rose 5.7% on year, with volumes up 4.7%, it said.

"In North America and Europe strong demand for in-home food has continued, while demand for most beauty and personal-care categories has remained subdued," the company said.

The FTSE 100 group said it will start a share-buyback program in May of up to EUR3.0 billion, in one or more tranches. It said the buyback program is expected to completed by the end of the year.

The board declared a quarterly dividend of EUR0.4268.

Unilever warned about the pandemic's continuing boosting effect on the company's expenses.

"Covid-19 continues to cause additional supply-chain costs and a negative margin mix. Commodity and freight costs have increased further and we will be lapping lower marketing spend in the first half of last year," it said.

Still, the company said it anticipates to deliver underlying sales growth in 2021 within its multiyear framework of 3% to 5%, with the first half around the top of this range.

The operational separation of Unilever's tea business, excluding India and Indonesia and the partnership interests in the ready-to-drink-tea joint ventures, is progressing well and is expected to be completed this year, the company said.

"We continue to evaluate the most value creating model, including an IPO, a demerger, a joint venture, or a disposal, and we have also appointed an external CEO to lead this business into its next phase," Unilever said.

 

Write to Matteo Castia at matteo.castia@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 29, 2021 02:52 ET (06:52 GMT)

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