FRANKFURT German consumer goods group Henkel (HNKG_p.DE) said that weak foreign currencies would continue to hurt its results in the first half of 2014 as it reported fourth-quarter sales below expectations.
"The economic environment remains challenging and we expect persisting foreign exchange effects, particularly in the first half of the year," Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted said on Thursday.
The group therefore expects only a slight increase in adjusted operating margin this year to 15.5 percent, after an increase of 1.3 percentage points to 15.4 percent in 2013, Henkel said.
The group, which makes Persil washing powder and Schwarzkopf hair products, as well as industrial adhesives, reported fourth-quarter sales of 3.852 billion euros ($5.3 billion), down from 4 billion euros in 2012 and hurt by currency effects. Analysts had expected 4.059 billion euros in a Reuters poll.
Adjusted for currency effects and acquisitions, sales would have risen 3.5 percent, Henkel said.
Adjusted earnings before interest and tax were in line with analyst expectations at 584 million euros.
The company proposed an increase in the dividend to 1.22 euros per preferred share and 1.20 euros per ordinary share, from 0.95 euros and 0.93 euros a year ago.
Analysts had predicted a dividend payout of 1.14 euros per ordinary share, up 20 percent from the 0.95 euros for 2012.
Henkel last month said it would pay out more of its profits to shareholders in dividends as profits improve and it struggles to find a suitable takeover target for its cash pile.
The company's last big acquisition was a 3.7 billion euro deal for National Starch in 2008 to expand its adhesives division. It has been on the hunt for deals for more than a year and has said it has about 4 billion euros available. ($1 = 0.7271 euros)
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Edward Taylor and David Goodman)