Hindustan Unilever Limited's (HUL) net sales for the fourth quarter ended 31 March 2009 grew 6 per cent to Rs3988 crore, as against Rs3763 crore for the same period last year, the company said yesterday.
The company's net profit rose 4 per cent to Rs395 crore compared with Rs381 crore in the fourth quarter of 2008. However, profit before interest and exceptional item was up 20 per cent at Rs575 crore (Rs472 crore).
The exceptional items include incremental provision for retirement benefits of Rs60 crore arising out of change in actuarial assumption largely due to lower interest rates, restructuring costs of Rs26 crore, provision for remediation of a site of Rs25 crore and profit of Rs7 crore from sale of properties in Mumbai.
For the 12 months ended 31 March 2009, HUL's net sales grew 15.5 per cent to Rs16476.75 crore, while its profit from operations (before interest and exceptional items) stood at Rs2396.06 crore.
The company's net profit for the 12 months grew 10.6 per cent to Rs2115.50 crore.
''We have focused on sustaining growth in a challenging economic environment by significantly improving consumer value across our portfolio,'' Harish Manwani, chairman, HUL, said.
''This has been achieved through a series of interventions, including pricing actions. Simultaneously, continued focus on costs and improved operating leverage has helped deliver strong profit growth. We will continue to drive our business to deliver competitive and profitable growth,'' he added.
Household and personal care business grew at 11 per cent driven by carry forward impact of pricing in soaps and detergents which grew 16 per cent. However, personal products grew by only 2 per cent, affected by outlet consolidation in organised retail and decline in oral care sales.
Laundry business grew well driven by Surf and Rin. Growth in personal wash segment was led by Lux and Dove. Shampoo category witnessed moderate growth with Dove continuing to gain market shares and Sunsilk holding its turf. The company launched new range of Dove shampoos and Vaseline Healthy White during the quarter.
The gowth in skin care category was led by Fair and Lovely and strong volume growth in Vaseline. In Oral care segment, growth in Close Up was offset by decline in Pepsodent.
Foods business grew by 13 per cent led by beverages (13 per cent) and ice creams (22 per cent). Most of the tea brands also show robust growth, while processed foods grew 7 per cent, led by jams, and ice cream.
The company's profit before interest and tax (before exceptional items) grew 23.7 per cent. The PBITmargin for the quarter stood at 13.9 per cent of sales, 2 per cent higher than the same quarter last year.
Price-sensitive products such as sachets and small size items have seen 10-20 per cent drop in prices, he said.
D Sundaram, director, finance, said the company would realise the benefit of cut in product prices in the next quarter as there is always a time lag, especially in a company of its size.
''We also face the challenge of large retailers consolidating their outlets. According to our estimates about 1,200 outlets across country have been consolidated,'' he added.
HUL's shares gained 1 per cent to Rs233.05 on May 8 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.