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Unilever share buyback continues despite profit slip

Unilever profits slip but new CEO's growth plan buoys shares.

Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers

Consumer goods giant Unilever (LSE: ULVR) announced plans on Thursday to continue its €1.5 billion share buyback programme in 2024, despite reporting a 9.7% drop in annual pretax profit to €9.34 billion. The company’s share price rose 2.8% on the news.

The Anglo-Dutch firm, whose brands include Magnum ice cream and Dove soap, said turnover dipped 0.8% to €59.60 billion last year amid volume declines in Europe and its ice cream division. Unilever held its dividend steady at €0.4268 per share.

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New CEO Hein Schumacher said Unilever is in the early stages of a “growth action plan” launched last October to reinvigorate performance. Key focuses include increasing investment in leading brands, accelerating portfolio transformation and adopting a stronger performance culture.

While the plan aims to restore Unilever to consistent higher growth, analysts said substantial change will take time. “Cost of living challenges mean private label brands have never been more appealing, meaning Unilever is having to work harder just to maintain market share,” said Charlie Huggins of Wealth Club.

The stock is up 4.9% year to date.

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