• Profit drops 33% for nine-month period
  • Strong sales and volume growth
  • CEO focus on fourth quarter volume growth

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, booked a drop in profit for the first nine months of the year today (5 November) but reported strong sales and volume growth.

The Knorr-to-Ben & Jerry's maker said that profit dropped 33% for the period to EUR2.75bn (US$4.08bn).
Net sales also fell, reaching EUR30.16bn, a 1% decrease on the previous year as a result of currency movements and disposals. Underlying sales growth however, increased 4.1%, with volumes up 1.4%.

Paul Polman, CEO said the company has seen "good progress" across all regions and the majority of countries and categories.

"Our market shares are responding to stronger innovations, greater consumer value, increased marketing support and better execution. Market conditions remain challenging and in this environment we will continue to increase investment behind our brands and build long-term capabilities in research and development. We are on track towards our objective of restoring volume growth while protecting margins and cash flow for the year as a whole," he said.

Operating margin for the nine months dropped 29% on the previous year to EUR2.75bn.

For the third-quarter sales excluding acquisitions and currency swings rose 3.4% to EUR10.20bn. Net income fell to EUR1.05bn, a 35% drop on the previous year.

The quantity of goods sold in western European countries including Germany, France and the UK rose 2.6%.

Click here for the full results release and here for further insight into Unilever's nine-month results.