Unilever warns emerging markets slowdown has accelerated

LONDON Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:58pm EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Consumer goods company Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) warned on Monday that a slowdown in its emerging markets accelerated in the third quarter and it now expects underlying sales growth of just 3 to 3.5 percent in the period.

That compares with a weaker-than-expected 5 percent rise in sales the Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove skincare products reported in July for the second quarter.

Developed markets remained flat to down in the third quarter, it said, and overall Unilever said it was on track to meet its 2013 priorities. It attributed the emerging markets slowdown to a significant currency weakening.

"We continue to grow ahead of our markets and expect underlying sales growth to improve in quarter four," Chief Executive Paul Polman said.

Unilever generates about 57 percent of its 51 billion euros of annual sales from developing and emerging markets, a fact that has weighed on its share price as currency routs crimp demand and weigh on profits in several markets including India.

Unilever's shares have fallen 7 percent in the last 3 months.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Neil Maidment and David Cowell)

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