StockMarketWire.com - Unilever reported a 2.9% increase in underlying sales for 2018 and the fourth quarter, but said it expected market conditions to remain "challenging" in 2019.

Meanwhile, the disposal of the company's spreads business and an adverse currency impact of 6.7% weighed on full-year turnover, which fell 5.1% year on year to £51bn.

Looking forward, CEO Alan Jope anticipated that underlying sales growth for 2019 would be in the lower half of its multi-year 3-5% range.

Nonetheless, he expected to see continued improvement in the company's underlying operating margin and another year of strong free cash flow and said Unilever was "on track" to meet its 2020 goals.

"2018 was a solid year for Unilever, with good volume growth and high-quality margin progression. Looking forward, accelerating growth will be our number one priority. We will capitalise on our strengthened organisation and portfolio, and our digital transformation programme, to bring higher levels of speed and agility. Strong delivery from our savings programmes will improve productivity and fund our growth ambitions," Jope said.





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