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Unilever Management Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

However, as much as we are confident about our ability to outperform markets, there are many indicators that suggest that the global macroeconomic environment will remain very difficult.

While the growth prospects for consumer demand remain healthy in emerging markets, the fundamentals in developed markets continue to be weak. Consumer sentiment in Europe continues to suffer, and this has been going on for a while. Disposable incomes are being squeezed and households are reigning in their budgets, spending less and making whatever they have go farther. In the U.S., where economic indicators perhaps are more mixed, we still see 45 million people claiming benefits via food stamps.

Despite these challenging market conditions, which we expect will continue, we are in a good position as Unilever. Our brands cater for the everyday needs of billions of consumers. We have iconic brands that consumers trust, and that offer outstanding value for money with great innovations. This is why we are confident that we will continue over time to outperform our markets.

Now let me talk through some of the highlights of our category performance. Personal Care momentum continues. Again, we performed ahead of the market, with underlying sales growth in the quarter of over 10%, 6% coming from volume. Our hair care business continues to do well as the overall portfolio is really starting to work. For example, Dove Damage Repair and Clear have standout performance, but they've also been complemented by the rollout of Axe Hair in Europe. We've also launched TRESemmé in Brazil, where now our overall hair care market share is growing. But this is a highly competitive category. In parts of the world where competitors are under pressure, we still see this at times translated into price.

We also had great results in Skin Cleansing, where Dove again grew strongly, benefiting from the continued success of Dove Nutrium shower gels and the rollout of Dove Men+Care, which is now in more than 40 markets. It's an example of bigger, better, faster innovations. But we also had Lux and Lifebuoy also contributing strongly.

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