By Matteo Castia

 

Unilever PLC reported Thursday a rise in net profit for the first half despite the coronavirus headwind.

The Anglo-Dutch multisector retailer--which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap--made a net profit for the six months of 3.28 billion euros ($3.80 billion), compared with EUR3.01 billion in the year-earlier period.

"In North America and parts of Europe there was a positive impact from household stocking in March. Consumption patterns then normalized in the second quarter with heightened levels of demand for hygiene and in-home food products," the company said.

Turnover for the period decreased 1.6% on year at current rates to EUR25.71 billion, slowed by significant drops in the food service, out-of-home ice-cream, and non-hygiene personal-care products. Underlying sales fell 0.1% on year, below its multiyear target of 3% to 5% growth.

In December and January, the company warned that it would miss its underlying sales growth target for the first half. At that time, it said it expected sales to be second-half weighted and at the bottom end of consensus for the full year.

In April, Unilever said the hit from Covid-19 lockdowns in big emerging markets such as China and India was outweighing stockpiling by consumers in the U.S., and it warned the crisis could cause long-term changes in consumer behavior and demand trends.

The board declared Thursday an interim dividend for the second quarter of EUR0.4104.

 

Write to Matteo Castia at matteo.castia@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 23, 2020 02:39 ET (06:39 GMT)

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