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Unilever Sales Beat Estimates on New Ice Cream, Beauty Products

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Unilever, whose soaps and detergents are used by 2 billion consumers daily, reported fourth-quarter sales that beat estimates, fueled by sales of beauty products and premium ice creams.

Revenue rose 4.9 percent, excluding acquisitions and currency shifts, in the three months through December, London- and Rotterdam-based Unilever said in a statement Tuesday. The median estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for growth of 4 percent. Growth in the quarter beat expectations thanks to higher pricing than anticipated, as the quantity of goods sold was below analysts’ estimates.

“We are preparing ourselves for tougher market conditions and high volatility in 2016, as world events in recent weeks have highlighted,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman said in the statement.

The maker of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is warding off ebbing demand for personal and home-care products in India, where its business is growing at the slowest pace in a decade. To buoy profitability, the company has acquired high-end brands such as Grom gelato and built a 400 million-euro ($435 million) prestige personal-care division to offset pressure from bargain-hunting European consumers.

Unilever is also introducing zero-based budgeting -- a business model wherein expenses must be justified from nil annually or quarterly -- to cut costs by about 1 billion euros by 2018.

News by Bloomberg, edited by ESM. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.

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