HUL Q4 Results: Volume Growth At 16%, Profit Beats Estimates
Sachets of HUL’s Surf detergent are displayed at a store. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

HUL Q4 Results: Volume Growth At 16%, Profit Beats Estimates

Hindustan Unilever Ltd.’s quarterly profit surged beating estimates, and volumes jumped as India’s largest consumer goods maker continues to recover from the pandemic-driven disruption.

The fast-moving consumer goods maker’s net profit rose 41% over the year earlier to Rs 2,143 crore in the quarter ended March, according to an exchange filing. That compares with the Rs 1,967.9-crore consensus estimate of analysts tracked by Bloomberg.

Its volume growth stood at 16% in the reported quarter. That came on the back of a low base as volumes contracted a year earlier because of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Key Highlights (YoY)

  • Revenue rose 35% to Rs 12,132 crore—compared with the estimated Rs 11,733.4 crore.
  • Operating profit jumped 43% to Rs 2,957 crore, against a forecast of Rs 2,835 crore.
  • Margin expanded to 24.4% from 22.9%, against the estimated 24.2%.

“Our in-quarter performance was strong on both the top line and bottom line. Despite challenging times, in FY21 our business ecosystem has withstood the disruption and demonstrated agility and resilience across the value chain,” Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director of HUL, was quoted as saying in the filing. “Our focus firmly remains behind delivering volume-led competitive growth.”

Srinivas Phatak, chief financial officer at HUL, said in the face of elevated inflationary pressures, HUL’s focus is on volume growth. In the October-December period, the company had said profit margin was in a healthy space between 24% and 25%. Phatak after Q4 results, however, told reporters that the margin profile will have to be navigated.

HUL has boosted its supply chain capacity by 30% over the last one year. This was mostly done by adding on 30 new third-party contract manufacturers to de-risk manufacturing from local disruptions.

The Shikhar app has now crossed 5 lakh outlets from the earlier 1 lakh. It allows retailers to order directly from the company, even if sales people don’t visit them. The company has also added 16,000 Shakti Ammas, taking the total to 1,30,000, Phatak said. The company, he said, has put in capital in distribution.

Home Care

The category growth stood at 15%, led by strong recovery in fabric wash. Household care delivered double-digit growth. Liquids and fabric sensations continued to outperform, benefitting from robust market development initiatives, the company said in a press release.

Beauty & Personal Care

The category grew 20% with skin cleansing, hair care and oral care delivering high double-digit growth.

Skin cleansing performance was led by Lifebuoy and premium segment. ”A calibrated approach towards price increase has helped protect our business model even as vegetable oils continue to inflate at record levels,” the company said in the release.

Its skin care portfolio registered strong performance in hand & body care and face cleansing segments. The maker of Lakme said its color cosmetics performance improved sequentially.

Foods & Refreshment

This segment grew at 36% in the reported quarter. “All our tea brands continued to grow in high double-digits. Ketchups, soups and ice creams also performed well with double-digit growth,” the company said.

Nutrition volumes grew in double digits, and HUL launched Rs 2 sachets in Horlicks and Boost. “Our goal remains to drive penetration in this category.”

Discretionary and out-of-home categories also witnessed an improvement sequentially.

Consumption trends:

  • Health hygiene trends continue to play out.
  • Premiumisation strategy has not changed.
  • Naturals trend continues to play out.

While HUL’s peers Britannia Industries Ltd. and Nestle India Ltd. also reported an increase in revenue, underscoring the recovery in demand, even as they flagged raw material price pressures.

HUL’s board of directors have proposed a final dividend of Rs 17 apiece.

Shares of HUL rose as much as 1.8% to Rs 2,449 apiece after the results were announced compared with a flat Nifty 50.

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