Updates from Unilever and BT
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It's a rash of big blue chip names this morning. First, Bovril-to-Cornetto-to-Surf maker, Unilever. Unilever has been a comeback story in recent years but underlying +5% sales growth for the last quarter is slightly behind expectations.
Unilever blames slowing emerging markets. Underlying volume growth is +2.6% higher while turnover climbs +0.4% to €25.5bn. Core operating margin is up 40bps to 14.0% driven by gross margin up 120bps.
"The underlying performance of our Foods and Refreshment categories is starting to improve," says boss Paul Polman, "with strong growth from the relaunched Lipton Yellow Label and the continuing success of Knorr jelly bouillons and baking bags."
Next, BT quarterly numbers. There's a +5% climb in adjusted profit to £595m but a -16% slump in reported profit before tax. Earnings per share climb +5% to 5.9p. In terms of BT Sport, at least half a million households have now ordered BT Sport, the company claims.
"Our consumer line loss is at its lowest level in five years," says chief exec Ian Livingston, "and we took a 50% share of the broadband4 market net additions. Our SME business grew revenues by +1%, the best performance in more than four years, and our BT Global Services order intake was up almost +50%."
BT says fibre take-up remains strong and its fibre network has now passed more than 16 million premises with more than 1.7 million connected.
We finish with an update from energy player SSE. SSE's number of electricity and gas customer accounts in markets in Great Britain and Ireland slipped from 9.47 million to 9.46 million. Average consumption of electricity by SSE's household customers in Great Britain slipped to 920kWh, compared with 940kWh from 1 April.
The energy player claims it's on course to deliver a full year dividend increase for 2013/14 that is greater than RPI inflation, and to deliver above-RPI inflation dividend increases in the years following.
"SSE's year has got off to an encouraging start," says chief exec Alistair Phillips-Davies, "with a number of important issues, such as the dispute relating to the Greater Gabbard wind farm, being resolved and solid performance in operations and investments."