Hindustan Unilever Q4 net up 7% at Rs1,090 cr

Personal care products major Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), today reported a 7 per cent year-on-year increase in its fiscal fourth quarter net profit at Rs1,090 crore, helped by increased sales of its skin care, hair care, and packaged food products.

The Indian arm of Anglo-Dutch personal care products giant Unilever Plc said its net profit for the quarter ended March stood at Rs1,090 crore ($164.06 million), compared with Rs1,018 crore a year earlier.

The profit included an exceptional income of Rs179 crore from the sale of a unit in an earlier quarter, the company said.

Quarterly sales for January-March 2015-16 grew 3.4 per cent to Rs7,809 crore.

Sales volume grew 4 per cent compared with the 6 per cent achieved in the previous quarter, partly because the company continued to pass on the benefits of lower commodity prices to buyers.

Hindustan Unilever, which makes products ranging from soaps to ice-creams, has been hit by weak demand from rural India that is grappling with a drought for the second straight year. Rural consumers account for more than a third of the company's sales.

Hindustan Unilever has been cutting prices to stir demand amid stiff competition from local rivals.

The fall in raw material costs resulted in a 240 basis-points reduction in cost of goods sold in the quarter, it sad. The quarter witnessed further price deflation in various categories, including soaps and detergents given benign input costs.

In a conference call after the results, HUL financial chief PB Balaji is reported to have said that sales volumes are likely to improve in the current quarter, amid hopes of a good monsoon.

India has predicted better monsoon for this year, raising hopes among analysts for a revival in demand for consumer products companies.