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Hindustan Unilever posts Q4'18 profit growth on improved demand

Hindustan Unilever Ltd. on May 14 reported growth in key earnings metrics for the fiscal fourth quarter and full year ended March 31.

The Indian consumer goods company, a subsidiary of Unilever PLC, said profit for the final quarter of fiscal 2018 amounted to 13.51 billion rupees. That was up 14% from 11.83 billion rupees in the year-ago period and ahead of the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate of 13.49 billion rupees.

Diluted EPS came in at 6.24 rupees, compared to 5.47 rupees a year prior and beating the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate of 6.02 rupees.

The company's revenue from operations for the quarter reached 90.97 billion rupees, an increase from 88.86 billion rupees in the year-ago period.

The results came as trade conditions normalized during the three months while the company saw a gradual improvement in demand from both rural and urban areas of India, Hindustan Unilever CEO Srinivas Phatak said during a May 14 earnings conference call.

Looking into the near-term future, Phatak expects sustained growth in demand, while inflationary pressure will "continue to remain elevated."

The company will continue to focus on driving volume growth and improving operating margins, according to the executive. He disclosed that margins are about 14% for the home care segment, 25% for personal care and 17% for refreshments.

Across Hindustan Unilever's segments, personal care and home care both posted double-digit growth during the fiscal fourth quarter, with the company's premium range of personal wash products continuing to perform "remarkably well," according to Phatak.

In the refreshments segment, the company saw growth spanning categories including tea, coffee, ice cream and frozen desserts.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, Hindustan Unilever recorded profit of 52.37 billion rupees, up 17% year over year from 44.90 billion rupees and beating the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate of 51.52 billion rupees.

Diluted EPS was 24.19 rupees, compared to 20.74 rupees a year prior and exceeding the S&P Capital IQ consensus estimate of 23.79 rupees.

Revenue from operations for fiscal 2018 was 352.18 billion rupees, up from 344.87 billion rupees a year ago.

Hindustan Unilever's board proposed a final dividend of 12 rupees per share. With the interim dividend of 8 rupees per share, the total dividend for the fiscal year stands at 20 rupees per share.

As of May 14, US$1 was equivalent to 67.57 Indian rupees.