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Consumer goods giant Unilever sees accelerated sales growth

  • Unilever's latest earnings report has revealed a bigger-than-expected acceleration in fourth-quarter sales growth.
  • This was helped by a step-up in emerging markets and is a marked improvement on previous quarters.
  • The company is expecting to keep on track for its 2020 targets.

Unilever reported a bigger-than-expected acceleration in fourth-quarter sales growth on Thursday helped by a step-up in emerging markets that saw the consumer goods maker end its tumultuous year on a higher note.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream - which spent most of last year reviewing its business after rebuffing a $143 billion takeover bid in February - said underlying sales rose 4 percent. Analysts on average were expecting 3.7 percent, according to a company-supplied consensus.

That marks an improvement from 3 percent in the first half and 2.6 percent in the third quarter.

For the full year, underlying earnings per share were 2.24 euros, above analysts expectations for 2.21 euros per share.

Looking ahead, the company forecast underlying sales growth of 3 to 5 percent for 2018 and an improvement in underlying operating margin and cash flow that will keep it on track for its 2020 targets.