Investors awaited this week’s fourth-quarter results from Unilever with a rare sense of trepidation.

“Unilever is glad to be global as home gains prove hard going”

Guy Montague-Jones, Senior Reporter

In October, a slowdown in emerging markets forced the Anglo-Dutch giant to issue its first profit warning in a decade. Fears that it would mark the start of a sustained decline in emerging markets sparked a sell-off, not only of Unilever shares, but of shares in other global consumer stocks.

So there was widespread relief this week when Unilever reported a resurgence in emerging market growth in what one analyst called “refreshingly dull” results.

However, Unilever continues to struggle in developed markets, including the UK. Though the results singled out the UK as one of the better performing European markets, some of its biggest brands are treading water or in decline.

In The Grocer’s Top Products survey, Flora sales were down 12.2%, Lynx deo was down 7.2% and sales of PG Tips and Marmite fell 5% [Nielsen, 52 w/e 12 October 2013]. Sales of Carte d’Or (15.2%) and Ben & Jerry’s (4.5%) soared in the summer sun, but the food division is under huge pressure.

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