Group sales for the third quarter came in at €10.2bn, a fall of 2 per cent, but a gain of 3 to 4 per cent in terms of underlying growth, while volume growth was 3.6 per cent.
Net profits fell 35 per cent to €1.12bn, but this figure was distorted when compared to the same period last year, when the company gained nearly half a billion euros from the sale of its seasonings business.
Sales growth continues worldwide
“We have seen further good progress across all regions and the majority of countries and categories,” said company CEO Paul Polman.
“Market conditions remain challenging and in this environment we will continue to increase investment behind our brands and build long-term capabilities in research and development.”
The company is credited with maintaining underlying sales growth throughout the economic downturn, thanks to heavy discounting across its brand portfolio and and in all four of its business divisions.
In a conference call to announce the results Pollman hinted that further discounting is likely, in order to maintain the current momentum during the coming quarters.
Personal care registers solid growth
The personal care division registered sales of €3.03bn during the quarter, an increase of 4.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The company said that the growth in personal care sales came despite a 2.4 per cent negative impact from currency translations and represented an underlying sales growth figure of 5.2 per cent.
Sales for the division were particularly weak in both the US and Europe, but the company said that this was counterbalanced by stronger sales in developing markets, particularly China.
Dove Men launch benefits European sales
Sales also benefited from the launch of the Dove for Men range in France, Italy and Benelux countries, while the Lifebuoy brand benefited from the re-launch of a liquid soap in key Asia Pacific markets.
Results for the full nine months showed that sales declined by 1 per cent to €30.16bn, representing a 4 per cent growth in underlying sales, while net profit for the period fell by 29 per cent to €4.05bn.
The results for the most recent quarter beat analysts expectations for underlying sales growth, but the investment world gave a luke warm reception, with share prices falling 60 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday, to close at £17.69.