Conditions have hardly been ideal for Unilever in the run-up to its second quarter results, out this week. Ice cream sales have been inhibited by unseasonal weather across many parts of Europe, and fellow fmcg giants Danone and P&G both issued profit warnings.
However, the Anglo-Dutch company bucked the trend. The Dove soap and Persil giant reported a better than expected 5.8% increase in second quarter underlying sales. European sales were down, but these were more than offset by strong performances in emerging markets.
The City reacted positively to the Thursday morning announcement and the share price climbed 5% in early trading to reach £22.38.
Unilever won accolades for its ability to thrive come rain or shine. “Unilever has become Nestlé-like in the delivery of strong and consistent results,” said Bernstein analyst Andrew Wood.
Another company that has proved its resilience during the recession is British American tobacco. On Wednesday, it reported a 7% increase in earnings for the first half of the year, although revenue growth was hit by the strengthening pound. The share price dipped a fraction to £32.80 on the news. BAT’s success in emerging markets has helped fuel a 50% jump in the share price over the past two years.
Fellow cigarette giant Imperial Tobacco reported a 3% improvement in quarterly sales on Tuesday, driven by higher prices. Shares edged down a fraction to £24.20.
At GlaxoSmithKline, the consumer healthcare division was a bright spot in an otherwise grim picture. Home to Lucozade and Ribena, the division reported a 7% rise in sales in the three months to 30 June but overall group sales dropped by 4% to £6.5bn. Shares fell just over 1% to £14.26 on Wednesday.
PZ Cussons had a tough week, reporting a 15% drop in pre-tax profits amid continued political tension in Nigeria and rising commodity prices. Its share price fell by 4.6% to £3.05 on Tuesday.
Tate & Lyle also took a hit this week. Although it said operating profits were in line with expectations on Thursday, investors expressed concern about the rising price of corn. Shares edged down to £6.41 on the day, having fallen more than 5% over the past fortnight.