Pedestrians walk past an advertisement for Lakme Salon, operated by Hindustan Unilever Ltd. in the Churchgate Station area of Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Q4 Results: HUL Posts Lowest Volume Growth In Six Quarters

Hindustan Unilever Ltd.’s volume growth fell to its lowest in six quarters as rural demand moderated.

Net profit rose 13.8 percent year-on-year to Rs 1,538 crore in the January-March period, India’s largest consumer goods maker said in its exchange filing. That compares with the Rs 1,611-crore consensus estimate of analysts tracked by Bloomberg.

The company’s revenue rose 9.3 percent year-on-year to Rs 9,945 crore. That’s against the Rs 10,001-crore estimate. Its volume growth stood at 7 percent for the quarter— the lowest since June 2018.

Rural growth moderated and is on a par with urban, according to Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director of HUL. Moderation mostly occurred in the general trade and wholesale channel that feeds into the rural markets, he said at a press meet after announcing the fourth quarter results.

You must accept that FMCG sector is recession-resistant but not recession-proof. The macroeconomic factors will have an impact. At the end of the day, it depends on money in the hands of consumers.
Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman And MD, HUL

Navin Kulkarni, analyst at Reliance Securities, said the result was in line with expectations. “I expect volumes in the coming quarters to be 5-7 percent.”

The company’s operating income, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, rose 13.2 percent over the last year to Rs 2,314 crore. That’s in line with the Bloomberg estimate of Rs 2,348 crore. Its operating margin expanded 80 basis points to 23.3 percent in the March quarter.

HUL said it expects volatility in currencies and commodities to remain. But its “robust hedging mechanism” will help the company to handle volatility. “It has been a very good quarter from margin expansion point of view which demonstrates our handling of volatility pressure,” said Srinivas Pathak, chief financial officer at HUL.

Segment-Wise Performance

(Year-On-Year)

  • Revenue from the home care business rose 12.9 percent to Rs 3,502 crore.
  • Revenue from the beauty and personal care segment grew 7.3 percent to Rs 4,393 crore.
  • Food and refreshment revenue rose 10.4 percent to Rs 1,916 crore.

The company also declared a final dividend of Rs 13 apiece for the financial year.

Shares of HUL fell more than 2 percent to close at Rs 1,692.80 apiece before the earnings announcement. That compares with a flat NSE Nifty 50 Index.

Q4 Results: HUL Posts Lowest Volume Growth In Six Quarters