Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods maker The Unilever Group on Dec. 17 warned that underlying sales growth for fiscal 2019 is expected to be "slightly below" its guidance of the lower half of its 3% to 5% multiyear range, and it anticipates sales growth in the fiscal first half of 2020 to be below 3%.
In early trading in London, Unilever's shares were down 252 pence, or 5.6%, at 4,381 pence apiece.
The household products manufacturer attributed the negative adjustment to the economic slowdown in South Asia, one of its largest markets, and a continued challenging trading environment in developed markets.
"[W]hile there are early signs of improving performance in North America, a full recovery there will take time," the company said. Trading conditions in West Africa were "remaining difficult," the maker of Dove soaps and Lipton teas said in its press release.
Unilever added that earnings, margin and cash for the full year will not be impacted.
"Looking ahead to 2020, growth will be second-half weighted. While we expect improvement in H1 2020 versus this quarter, we expect that first half growth will be below 3%. Our full-year underlying sales growth is expected to be in the lower half of the multiyear range," CEO Alan Jope said.
"Growth remains our top priority and we are confident we have the right strategy and investment in place to step up our performance."