Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever has reported net profit from continuing operations of €1.025bn (US$1.23bn) for the third quarter, down 11% from the year-ago period.

Underlying sales grew by 3.5% in the quarter, with volume increasing by 3.6%. Turnover was 4.5% ahead in the quarter, benefiting by 2.4% from favourable currency movements and with a reduction of 1.5% from business disposals.

Operating margin was 15.6% in the quarter. The margin in the quarter was 1.4 percentage points lower than a year ago as a result of a higher level of advertising and promotional support for the company's brands. Savings programmes and an improved mix more than offset the impact of higher input costs.

"This is now the fourth quarter of improved sales performance. I remain encouraged with the overall progress made in increasing competitiveness while driving cost efficiency," said CEO Patrick Cescau.

"The higher and more consistent weight of market investment behind our priorities is showing through in continued volume growth and stable market shares, with some gains in key battlegrounds. To date, there has been a pick-up in growth in personal care, in developing and emerging markets and from vitality inspired innovation. However Western Europe remains difficult and we have not yet made the progress in restoring growth that we have elsewhere," he added.