StockMarketWire.com - Unilever has reported a 0.2% increase in turnover and home care underlying sales growth of 2.4%, as its home and hygiene brands benefitted from increased demand for household cleaning products, and has maintained its quarterly dividend.

In its first quarter 2020 trading statement, the company said turnover was positively impacted 0.6% from acquisitions net of disposals, although currency had a negative impact of 0.4%.

It announced overall underlying sales growth of 0.0% with 0.2% from volume and negative 0.2% from price, while developed markets grew 2.8% and emerging markets saw a decline of 1.8%.

The board has determined to pay a quarterly dividend for the first quarter of 2020 at €0.4104 per share, or £ 0.3614 per share.

Its beauty and personal care division grew underlying sales 0.3%, with volume growth of 0.7% and negative pricing of 0.5%, with growth driven by both consumption and household stocking.

In its foods and refreshment division, underlying sales were down 1.7%, with volumes down 1.8% and positive pricing of 0.1%.

Unilever said the largest volume decline was in ice cream, 'as the seasonal sell-in for out of home consumption in key markets such as Europe, Turkey and Latin America were heavily impacted by lock-down measures and the reluctance of distributors to commit to buying ice cream stock with an uncertain holiday and tourism season'.

The strategic review of its tea business is ongoing.

Chief executive Alan Jope said it had entered the crisis with a strong balance sheet and cash position.

He said: 'We are systematically reviewing all areas of cash generation and usage and re-evaluating all costs in the light of the current circumstances, so that we can continue to invest in our brands and reallocate funds towards the best opportunities.

'We will continue to adapt throughout this crisis. However, the unknown severity and duration of the pandemic, as well as the containment measures that may be adopted in each country, mean that we cannot reliably assess the impact across our markets and our business.

'We are therefore withdrawing our previous growth and margin outlook for 2020.'



At 8:16am: [LON:ULVR] Unilever PLC share price was -210.5p at 4032.5p



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