FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd today posted 6.19 per cent increase in standalone net profit to Rs 1,183 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, driven by robust sales across various business segments.
Total income during the quarter under review stood at Rs 8,969 crore, as against Rs 8,430 crore in the year-ago period, up 6.39 per cent, it added.
"This has been a strong quarter with profitable volume driven growth. In a challenging year, we delivered a resilient performance by managing our business dynamically and responding with agility to the changing external environment," HUL Chairman Harish Manwani said in a statement.
With gradual improvement in market conditions, the company remains optimistic about the medium term outlook for the FMCG sector, he added.
For the year ended March 31, the company posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 4,490 crore, up 8.16 per cent from Rs 4,151 crore during the previous fiscal.
Total income of the company rose to Rs 36,128 crore as against Rs 35,039 crore in the 2015-16.
The company's board, which met today, recommended a final dividend of Rs 10 per share. Together with the interim dividend of Rs 7 per share, the total dividend for the financial year ending March 31 amounts to Rs 17 per share.
HUL CFO P B Balaji said there has been a gradual recovery in the market, which is now stabilising after being hit by demonetisation.
Rural market, which had suffered the most after demonetisation, is also recovering but is yet to be where it was before the note ban, he said in a conference call.
With a successive good monsoon predicted, Balaji said: "Rural market will come back by all indications. There is no reason for rural market to languish behind the urban."
Elaborating on category wise performance for the fourth quarter, Balaji said premiumisation led to a broad based growth in home care segment with brands like Surf and Vim liquid putting up strong performances.
The company also witnessed rebound of both personal wash and personal products during the quarter.
The foods business, however, grew modestly due to strong comparators in the previous year, although Kissan brand grew well in the quarter, Balaji said, adding that going ahead focus would be on market development for the category.
When asked about competition from Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali, Balaji said, HUL is preparing its natural range of products for the Indian market.
Currently, the company is testing a new range of products formulated with Ayurvedic ingredients under 'Lever Ayush' in five southern states.
When asked how soon the new range would be rolled out nationally, he declined to share a timeline stating the present focus is to make them meet required standards before they hit any market.
Commenting on Goods & Services Tax (GST), Manwani said the legislation will be a win-win for all stakeholders.
"Our strategic agenda of delivering consistent, competitive, profitable and responsible growth remains unchanged," he added.
Balaji said while there will be no impact on consumer sentiment due to GST, there could be "stress in trade pipeline" in the short term during the transition.
"We need to know the exact dates for implementation of GST although our preparation is for July 1 deadline," he said.
HUL shares today ended 0.82 per cent up at Rs 1,006.35 on the BSE.
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