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Unilever posts 4 percent rise in underlying full-year sales

Unilever has warned the consumer goods giant preparing itself for tougher market conditions and high volatility in 2016 as it reported a better-than-expected 4 percent rise in underlying full-year sales on Tuesday.

The Anglo-Dutch maker of Knorr soups, Dove soap and Lipton teas said core operating profit rose by 0.9 billion euros to 7.9 billion euros, broadly in line with analysts' expectations.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman told CNBC that he was pleased with the results but highlighted the risk of emerging market (EM) currencies.

"For EM we have to be worried about enormous swings in currencies, which will continue. That's really a reflection of continued capital outflow, low commodity prices and frankly, the lack of structural reform in many countries," said Polman.

The Unilever CEO added that for the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates further any time soon would be a bad move.

"I would say instead we need to have a little bit more courage to invest where we need to invest.

"Although demand is weak, we need to stimulate demand and looking at emerging markets there is an enormous need for infrastructure," he said.

Unilever on global growth

Unilever is currently reviewing its cost and budgeting structure as it tries to protect margins from slowing global growth.

Polman said China's full-year gross domestic product figure of 6.9 percent is relatively good but stressed that what counts is what will happen in 2016.

For Europe he was less praiseworthy and called on politicians to take action.

"I don't think markets in Europe will surprise to the upside. They will limp along with some deflation."


The Unilever boss also highlighted economic disparity as a potential drag on sales.

"Oxfam published a report highlighting that the top 1 percent get the same income as the bottom 99 percent.

"It is not good for us if the economy only goes to the rich because people don't eat more or drive in more cars," he said.

Polman said the wealth split directly affected his company's product range.

"When society becomes more polarized, you need to be on the premium end and stay competitive on the bottom."

Reuters contributed to this report