Shares of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream owner Unilever rose 3.11% Thursday morning as the consumer goods giant beat first-quarter sales expectations. The UK-listed stock, which also owns Lipton tea and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, said it is off to a good start to the year, as underlying sales rose 5.7% in the three months to March. This was ahead of analysts’ forecast of 3.9%.
Consumers, who have often been locked in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been cooking more meals themselves because some restaurants have been closed. Unilever UL, + 3.59% ULVR, + 3.37%, which owns Cup-a-Soup, Buavita and Knorr, saw strong demand for its household food in North America and Europe, while demand from most of the beauty and personal care categories remained. submitted. Sales of its Lynx Sure and Dove antiperspirants fell as consumers appeared to abandon personal hygiene while stuck at home. The company said in a statement: “Deodorants declined in high single digits as the deodorant market was also affected by lower consumer use.” Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope cautioned that the operating environment remains volatile in the regions in which Unilever operates. “Fluctuating levels of COVID-19 cases and markets moving in and out of lockdowns continue to affect consumer behavior and channel dynamics,” he said. “Conditions in China are normalizing. Economic activity in India increased in the first quarter, although parts of the country have recently returned to lockdown as a result of the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Markets grew in Latin America in the first quarter, even though macroeconomic conditions remain volatile and market conditions in Southeast Asia remain challenging. ”The company will buy back up to 3 billion euros in shares from May. James Edwardes Jones, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, noted a “moderate selling pace relative to the consensus compiled by the company,” which was consistent with what others in the industry have reported so far. “The 3,000 share buyback million euros is a positive surprise from our point of view, ”he said.“ The guidance for a slight margin growth in 2021 is compared to the consensus estimates of +30 basis points, so the margin forecasts may have to get down a bit. ”