Unilever sales gain on emerging market demand

Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever announced Thursday first quarter sales that were up slightly on last year thanks mainly to solid growth in emerging markets.

Sales rose 0.2 percent to 12.2 billion euros ($15.9 billion) despite a negative currency exchange impact of 3.5 percent, Unilever said in a statement.

Sales of subsidiaries including the Skippy peanut butter brand trimmed sales by 1.1 percent, meanwhile.

When those effects were stripped out, sales rose 4.9 percent overall, and by 10.4 percent in emerging markets.

"Growth remained solid in emerging markets despite the continuing macro-economic headwinds, whilst developed markets remained sluggish," Unilever said.

The group said its quarterly share dividend would be 0.269 euros, up 10.7 percent on the first quarter 2012.

One of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, Unilever owns a wide variety of brands including Knorr, Lipton, Dove and Vaseline. It employs 171,000 workers in 100 countries.