Unilever sales stronger than expected in third quarter

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Consumer goods maker Unilever reported better-than-expected third-quarter sales on Thursday, but said sluggish markets globally continued to weigh on its performance.

"We continue to see soft global markets with no immediate sign of getting help from an improving global economy," Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman said in a statement.

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In the third quarter, the Anglo-Dutch maker of Knorr soup, Lipton tea and Dove soap said underlying sales rose 5.7 percent, citing benefits from soft comparisons in China, a strong summer ice cream season and the timing of sales in Latin America.

Analysts on average were expecting a rise of 3.9 percent, according to a consensus compiled by the company.

For the rest of the year, Unilever said it expected underlying sales to come in toward the upper end of the 2 to 4 percent range. It also expects steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow.

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