The company has reported sales for the fourth quarter of 2010 of €10.82bn, up 12 per cent on last year’s figures, with net profit up 15 per cent to stand at €1.04bn
However, operating margin for the quarter was down slightly on last year, which largely reflects commodity costs, according to the company.
“Commodity costs began to rise in the second half of the year,” explained a Unilever spokesperson.
“Although this is not the same scale as in 2008, where we had a rapid spike in prices, in general for the future we do see commodity prices going up. How this affects the company will of course depend on which commodity,” the spokesperson told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
In the fourth quarter, slight price increases allowed these rising commodity costs to be transferred to the consumer; although overall prices were down in comparison to last year.
Personal care - second fastest growing category
Personal care, which accounts for about a third of the company’s turnover, reported sales of €3.5bn for the fourth quarter, representing a 5.6 per cent underlying sales growth.
Unilever highlighted a number of products whose strong performance helped drive results, including Dove Men+Care in both the deodorant and skin care categories, as well as Dove Damage Therapy and Clear in the hair care segment.
Emerging markets leading growth
Geographically, as with the majority of players in the industry, the emerging markets led the growth figures, reporting underlying sales growth of 8.5 per cent in comparison to 4.6 per cent for the Americas, and 1.1 per cent for Europe.
For Unilever, India and Brazil are the strongest of the emerging markets, reflecting the heritage of the company and its long term presence in the regions, the spokesperson explained.
“For the business as a whole we are late starters in China, we are investing slightly disproportionately in order to increase our market share,” the spokesperson said.
The investment looks to be paying off in some segments, as the company is reporting strong double digit growth in skin and hair care in the country.
Unilever also announced full year results for 2010, with sales up 11.1 per cent to reach €44.26bn and net profit up 26 per cent to reach €4.60bn.