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Unilever Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

In the emerging markets, growth rates are slowing as well. In China, you've seen it go down from about 10% to 7.5%. Brazil, always running around the 6%, 7%, now 1%. India, dropping from the 7%, 8% to 5%. And currencies are weakening as well. That adds to the inflationary pressures and squeezing consumer disposable incomes. Take, for example, the Brazilian real, depreciated 15% against the euro, more against the dollar, between middle 2011 and mid-2012. And I think I could give the same for the Indian rupee and some other things.

The developed markets are likely to remain difficult as well with unemployment further increasing and consumer confidence decreasing as austerity measures are starting to bite. At best, we can hope for the status quo to persist but we need to prepare as usual for the worst. In the U.S. for example, retail sales have now fallen for 3 consecutive months, which was last seen in 2008. The situation in Europe is well known to all of us, so no point rehashing it here. Better to confront the realities and to deal with it and that's the position we've always taken. I've spoken before about the scale of youth unemployment in parts of southern Europe and the potential consequences from a lack of social cohesion. But Europe's difficulties are not anymore confined to the south. 2012 growth prospects here in the U.K. for example, have been slashed again, this time from 0.8% to 0.2%. A year ago, just to remind ourselves, the IMF had still forecasted 2.3%. And the numbers that I just saw this morning coming out for the second quarter are actually a negative minus 0.7%.

We also see no signs of reduced competition. Price and promotional activities continue to be heavy in some markets, as well as in some categories, despite the rhetoric of some to the contrary. What is actually happening in the markets will continue to be the key driver for our decision-making.

Stock quotes in this article: UL 

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