Reckitt Benckiser Plc is forecasting better than previously anticipated results for 2020 after reporting record quarterly sales growth, as customers stocked up on its home care products amidst coronavirus lockdowns.
"We have seen strong consumer demand, particularly in March and April but the split between defensive buying and higher levels of underlying consumption is unclear," chief executive Laxman Narasimhan said in a statement.
"At this stage, it is uncertain how quickly this will change in the months ahead."
First-quarter like-for-like sales rose 13.3%, easily beating analysts' estimates of 5.3% provided by the company.
The growth marked the best sales increase since the company was formed in 1999 through the merger of Reckitt & Colman Plc and Dutch firm Benckiser NV.
Net revenue rose 12.3% to £3.54 billion in the three months ended March, beating analysts' average estimate of £3.29 billion.
The company said performance in 2020 would be better than its forecast, which called for steady progress towards mid-single-digit sales growth and adjusted operating margin declines of about 350 basis points.
The coronavirus pandemic has relieved pressure on a business that has struggled to cope with intense competition in the health and hygiene space.
Like-for-like sales in its hygiene business that sells Lysol disinfectants and Air Wick Freshners rose 12.8%, while they rose 13.6% in its Health business that sells Mucinex cough syrups and Dettol handwash.
The company's report follows just days after it warned people against using disinfectants to treat the coronavirus, after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested researchers try putting disinfectants into patients' bodies.
News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.