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Unilever Plc 2018 was a solid year, with good volume growth and high-quality margin progression

Unilever Plc (LON:ULVR), today announced 2018 full year results.

Performance highlights (unaudited)

Underlying performance

GAAP measures

vs 2017

vs 2017

Full Year

Underlying sales growth (USG)(a)

2.9%

Turnover(b)

€51.0bn

(5.1)%

USG excluding spreads(a)

3.1%

Turnover excluding spreads(b)

€49.6bn

(2.3)%

Underlying operating margin

18.4%

90bps

Operating margin

24.6%

810bps

Underlying earnings per share

€2.36

5.2%

Diluted earnings per share

€3.48

62.0%

Free cash flow

€5.0bn

€(0.4)bn

Net profit

€9.8bn

51.2%

Fourth Quarter

USG(a) 

2.9%

Turnover(b)

€12.2bn

(5.3)%

Quarterly dividend payable in March 2019                                                                                  €0.3872 per share

 

Full year highlights

· Underlying sales growth excluding spreads was 3.1% with 2.1% volume and 1.0% price

· Price growth in Argentina is excluded from underlying sales growth from July due to hyperinflationary status. Reported growth would otherwise have been 3.4% (3.6% excluding spreads)

· Underlying operating margin increased 90bps with 50bps from gross margin

· Underlying EPS increased 5.2%; constant underlying EPS was up 12.8%

· Turnover was impacted by an adverse currency impact of 6.7% and the disposal of spreads

· Operating margin up 810bps and diluted EPS up by 62%, driven by a €4.3 billion profit on the disposal of spreads

Alan Jope: Unilever Chief Executive Officer statement

“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. With so many of our brands enjoying leadership positions, we have significant opportunities to develop our markets, as well as to benefit from our deep global reach and purpose-led brands.

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.

In 2019 we expect market conditions to remain challenging. We anticipate underlying sales growth will be in the lower half of our multi-year 3-5% range, with continued improvement in underlying operating margin and another year of strong free cash flow. We remain on track for our 2020 goals.”