By Sabela Ojea

 

Unilever PLC reported Thursday a fall in net profit for 2020, missing market expectations for the year, but said it has begun 2021 in good shape and is confident it can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

The multisector retailer, which owns consumer brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap, posted a net profit of 5.58 billion euros ($7.61 billion) compared with EUR5.63 billion for 2019.

Net profit was expected to rise to EUR7.01 billion, according to the company's compilation of consensus.

Turnover fell to EUR50.72 billion from EUR51.98 billion for the year-earlier period, mainly driven by a 5.4% hit linked to currency related items, it said.

The company's underlying sales rose 1.9% in 2020, and increased 3.5% in the fourth quarter. Unilever has a long-term target of annual underlying sales growth of between 3% and 5%, as well as profit increasing ahead of sales growth.

The FTSE 100 listed company said its performance had been volatile since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and that it continued to witness changes in consumer behavior and channel dynamics in the fourth quarter.

Unilever said its ecommerce performance grew by 61% in 2020 as it captured demand in online channels, and now represents 9% of the company's overall performance.

The board has declared a fourth-quarter dividend of EUR0.4268 a share.

"We will deliver long term-value creation by continuing to evolve our portfolio and driving earnings growth, a strong cash flow and a growing dividend," the company said.

 

Write to Sabela Ojea at sabela.ojea@wsj.com; @sabelaojeaguix

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 04, 2021 03:28 ET (08:28 GMT)

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