Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL), the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant, on Monday, reported a 15 per cent rise in net profit for the fourth quarter of 2012-13 at Rs. 787 crore.

While net sales grew 12.5 per cent to Rs. 6,367.14 crore, the operating profit went up by 17.3 per cent to Rs. 910.35 crore. Sales volumes were up 6 per cent for the quarter.

Commodity costs were benign during the quarter, but due to high competitive intensity, HUL’s advertising and promotion (A&P) spend grew Rs. 144 crore. Despite this, operating margin grew 60 basis points.

HUL’s domestic consumer business grew 13 per cent, with 12.7 per cent coming from home and personal care, and 15.1 per cent from foods business.

Soaps and detergents grew 13 per cent, personal products 12 per cent, beverages 18 per cent, and packaged foods 7 per cent.

HUL’s net profit for 2012-13 was up 41 per cent at Rs. 3,797 crore on 16 per cent higher net sales of Rs. 25,206.38 crore. The company’s operating profit was up 23 per cent while operating margin grew by 60 basis points.

Addressing a press conference, Harish Manwani, Chairman, HUL, said, “the market trends are more towards a slowdown in growth, and our intention is to grow ahead of markets. In a challenging environment, we have delivered broad-based competitive growth and margins improvement.” The company’s business grew 16 per cent, with an underlying volume growth of 7 per cent. A&P spend grew 7 per cent.

Near-term concerns

HUL proposed a final dividend of Rs. 6 per share for the year, which, with the interim dividend of Rs. 4.5 per share and the special dividend of Rs. 8 per share, works out to a total dividend of Rs. 18.5 for FY13.

“While there are near-term concerns around slowing market growth and inflationary pressures on consumers, we are confident of the medium to long term growth prospects of the FMCG sector. We remain focused on delivering consistent and competitive growth with sustainable operating margin improvement,’’ Mr. Manwani said.

HUL has identified the categories of the future as products such as deodorants, hair conditioners, tea bags, fabric conditioners etc.

“Within personal products, the segments of the future did business of Rs. 1,000 crore and that can grow to Rs. 10,000 crore over the next decade,” said Mr. Manwani.

“The general trend is to be towards uptrading and premiumization,” said Nitin Paranjape, Managing Director and CEO, HUL.

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