Unilever first-quarter sales top expectations

John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Consumer goods maker Unilever reported better than expected first-quarter sales on Thursday, helped by pricing growth.

The results could boost investor enthusiasm for Unilever, whose shares have remained higher since February when it received, and swiftly rejected, a $143 billion takeover offer from rival Kraft Heinz.

The maker of Dove soap and Knorr soups said underlying sales rose 2.9 percent in its financial first quarter. That compares to analysts' estimates of 2 percent, according to a consensus compiled by the company, and growth of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.2 percent in the third quarter.