* Q2 sales and volume miss analyst estimates
* Earnings per share rise unexpectedly
* Pricing declines in developed markets
* Unilever shares roughly flat
(Adds analyst comments, performance details, bullet points)
By Martinne Geller
LONDON, July 24 Unilever
missed second-quarter sales expectations on Thursday, citing a
slowdown in emerging markets and declining prices in developed
The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap
and Lipton tea said underlying sales - which exclude the impact
of foreign exchange, acquisitions and disposals - rose 3.8
percent, below analysts' expectations of 4.3 percent.
"Overall there's a slowdown in Asia," Chief Financial
Officer Jean-Marc Huet told Reuters, citing China and Vietnam in
particular. "Russia has been difficult, you can imagine why."
For the first half of the year, core earnings per share rose
2 percent to 0.78 euros, handily beating analysts' estimates for
a 2.6 percent decline.
But sales volume, measuring the amount of products sold,
rose only 1.9 percent against the 2.4 percent gain forecast by
analysts and 1.9 percent in the first quarter.
"The absence of quarter-on-quarter acceleration is
disappointing," said RBC Capital Markets analyst James Edwardes
Jones, especially since a later Easter holiday should have
lifted sales in the second quarter at the expense of the first.
Pricing also rose 1.9 percent - slightly ahead of analysts'
expectations - but in developed markets it fell 1.4 percent
owing to intense competition from rivals and weak consumer
spending in North America and northern Europe.
In emerging markets, pricing rose 4.4 percent, as Unilever
aggressively tries to offset the profit-sapping effects of
currency devaluations and commodity inflation. The company
expects foreign exchange rates to shave 5 to 6 percentage points
of growth from its full-year sales.
Huet said the global markets in which Unilever operates are
now growing at about 2.5 percent, Huet said, down from about 3
percent at the start of the year.
Still, Unilever expects to outperform its markets, he added.
Shares in the company were flat at 1014 GMT after falling 2
percent earlier in the session.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Sophie