If you're a bug-eyed, frothy-mouthed go-go growth investor, you might need to pop a sedative before digging into Motley Fool Income Investor pick Unilever's
For the second quarter, revenue rose 2% as reported in constant currency, although underlying sales were up 3.3%. Regular readers of my work know that I'm usually no big fan of customized reporting concepts like "underlying sales," but in this case, I actually like it. Looking at sales through the lens of constant currency and excluding acquisitions and disposals is frankly a pretty good way to get a look at what's actually happening with the business.
Moving along, a large writedown of Slim Fast's carrying value sucked away about $452 million of profits. Without the writedown, operating profit was up 5% and operating margins showed a decent improvement. With the writedown, reported operating income was down 18% and reported net income fell 26%.
Business conditions continue to be a mixed bag for Unilever. Western Europe remains a very tough market, while business in Central and Eastern Europe is growing pretty well. Despite market shares in Europe being lower than they were a year ago, management reports that they have stabilized.
Elsewhere, the story is a bit brighter. The food business in the Americas was flat, but the home and personal care business continues to grow. Underlying sales in total were up about 5%. Of course, Slim Fast is still struggling, although it's not really a major part of the business (less than 1%). In Asia and Africa, the company saw underlying sales growth of 8%, and the company continues to target this region for future growth.
All in all, this is the sort of "meh" quarter that you sometimes see from large companies turning around their businesses. I'd suggest, however, that most of the important metrics are continuing to improve. Market share has stabilized, margins (backing out the write-down) are improving, and the company continues to look for further cost savings and brand enhancements.
Of course, Unilever isn't the only game in town -- investors looking at the food industry might want to look at the likes of Income Investor pick Heinz
For more on matters gastronomic, why not click on the following tasty Foolishness?
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- One Cool Deal for Heinz
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- Unilever Looks for Growth Leverage
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).