Consumer goods giant Unilever is set to announce its fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday 9 February. Here are five things worth keeping an eye out for as the Dove and Ben & Jerry's maker rounds off its financial year.
1. CEO Changeover
The results announcement comes just days after the company said that current non-executive director, Hein Schumacher, is to take over as the CEO from retiring Alan Jope in July. The market will be watching for any hints on how Schumacher plans to steer the company in his new role.
2. Sales Growth
Unilever's full-year underlying sales growth is expected to 8%, with the analyst consensus forecast being an 8.8% increase. This growth will be largely driven by double-digit price increases – but what of potential volume declines?
According to AJ Bell's Russ Mould and Danni Hewson, "Analysts expect to see double-digit percentage price increases offset volume declines, as Unilever flexes its brand power to compensate for how cash-strapped consumers may be trimming back on spending, by either buying less or at least trading down through brands."
3. New Business Structure
In early 2022, Unilever underwent a reorganisation and introduced a new business reporting structure, including Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition, and Ice Cream. Investors will be watching for volume and price trends by geography and in terms of these five business units.
As Barclays analysts noted recently, Jope made an interesting comment at Davos, where he said "Although inflation has peaked, pricing has not".
4. Profit Margins
Underlying operating margins are expected to come in at around 16% compared to 18.4% in 2021, according to AJ Bell.
Analysts predict underlying operating profit of €9.65 billion and stated operating profit, including restructuring costs and the impact of acquisitions and asset write-downs, of €8.9 billion.
5. Future Guidance
Following the fourth-quarter results, the market will be eager for any guidance from Alan Jope as he prepares for his final few months in charge of the consumer goods giant.
According to AJ Bell's Mould and Hewson, current consensus estimates anticipate underlying sales growth of 4.3%, an increase in the underlying operating margin to 16.6%, and an underlying operating profit of €10.2 billion for the forthcoming year.
Investors will also be watching for any updates on Unilever's €3 billion share buyback program, which is already underway, and the expected dividend payout.
Unilever's fourth-quarter results announcement is expected to provide a glimpse into the company's current performance, as well as its future direction under the leadership of incoming CEO Hein Schumacher. The market will be watching for updates on sales growth, business structure, profit margins, and future guidance, which will help provide a clearer picture of Unilever's strategy for the year ahead