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Unilever Management Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Underlying sales growth was 8.4% in Q1, broad-based with a good balance between volume and price. Our sales are up or in developed and emerging markets, and we grew in all categories with positive volumes in each.

Strong performance in Personal Care and emerging markets, those were the key drivers behind our growth. So overall, a pleasing start, albeit against a weak prior year comparator in Europe and, as you all know, impacted by some positive one-offs which affected all competitors.

Turnover for the quarter was EUR 12.1 billion, that's up 11.9%. Volume growth contributed 3.5% and price at 4.7%, and that mainly reflects the carryover effect of price increases taken last year. In a period when pricing has been high, our positive volumes demonstrate the strength of our brands and the impact of our much improved innovation programs, although we have a long way to go.

Net acquisitions contributed 2.7%, and this reflects the consolidation of Alberto Culver which, as you know, we completed in May last year, and Concern Kalina, more recently, the leading local Russian Personal Care business that we acquired in December. FX was positive at 0.5%.

Emerging markets now accounts for 56% of our turnover in the first quarter. Underlying sales growth at 11.9% and healthy volume at around 5% plus, and this growth was widespread. Underlying sales growth in the so-called BRIC countries at 13%, but other markets importantly also played their part. Countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and various markets in North Africa but also the Middle East.

As you know, we are well positioned in emerging markets. For well over the last 20 years, our volume growth has averaged around 5%, and we've delivered in good as well as bad times. In the last 4 quarters, our underlying sales growth has been in double digit on territory. Our Q1 results, we believe, are just another data point that suggests that emerging markets will drive Unilever's growth for many years to come.

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