FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Friday reported a 13.84 per cent rise in net profit to Rs 1,538 crore for the quarter ended March 31, helped by improvement in margins and volume growth.
The company had posted a net profit of Rs 1,351 crore in the January-March quarter of the previous fiscal.
Sales during the quarter under review stood at Rs 9,809 crore, up 8.95 per cent, as against Rs 9,003 crore in the corresponding period a year ago, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) said in a regulatory filing.
Its total expenses for the said period was Rs 7,765 crore compared to Rs 7,181 crore, up 8.13 per cent.
"Prudent management of volatility in costs (crude and currency led) along with improved mix and operating leverage has driven margin improvement," HUL said in a statement.
During the quarter, HUL's "domestic Consumer Growth was 9 per cent with Underlying Volume Growth at 7 per cent. EBITDA margin was up 90 bps".
HUL Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta said the company has delivered a strong performance for the quarter "despite some moderation in rural market growth".
According to HUL CFO Srinivas Phatak, rural growth rate which was ahead of urban growth for several quarters has slowed down.
"Rural used to be a quite attractive market for many quarters and was growing above urban. But if you look at some macro economic indicators, as low wage growth in rural areas and agri inflation has been low.
"There is also a bit of liquidity crunch, which we have seen in some of the markets in some few months, combination of all these have made rural growth started to slow down a bit," he said in an earnings call.
HUL's revenue from the home care segment during the quarter under review stood at Rs 3,502 crore, up 12.89 per cent, from Rs 3,102 crore in the corresponding period a year ago.
While contribution from the beauty and personal care segment was up 7.25 per cent to Rs 4,393 crore during the January-March period this fiscal as against Rs 4,096 crore a year ago.
Its foods and refreshment segment also rose 10.43 per cent during the period to Rs 1,916 crore over Rs 1,735 crore in the fourth quarter of 2017-18.
However, its 'other' segment, which includes, exports, infant and feminine care was declined 18.29 per cent to Rs 134 crore, compared to Rs 164 crore in the corresponding quarter a year ago.
For the entire 2018-19, HUL's net profit was up 15.25 per cent at Rs 6,036 crore, over Rs 5,237 crore in the previous year.
Its sales in the previous fiscal stood at Rs 37,660 crore, up 8.78 per cent, against Rs 34,619 crore in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, in a separate filing HUL informed the BSE that its board in a meeting held on Friday recommended a final dividend of Rs 13 per share of Re 1 each, for the financial year ended March 31, 2019.
"Together with the interim dividend of Rs 9 per share paid on November 1, 2018, the total dividend for the financial year ended March 31, 2019 works out to Rs 22 per share of Re 1 each," it added.
HUL also announced appointments of Anuradha Razdan as Executive Director, Human Resources and Vibhav Sanzgiri as Executive Director, Research and Development.
Both, Razdan and Sanzgiri will join HUL's Management Committee with effect from June 1, 2019.
On the outlook, Mehta said: "Given the macro-economic indicators, near-term market growth has moderated. However, medium-term outlook stays positive. As an organization we are well positioned to respond with speed and agility to meet the needs of our consumers".
Shares of Hindustan Unilever Ltd Friday settled at Rs 1,692.80 apiece on the BSE, down 2.04 per cent from previous close.