|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's range||49.56 - 51.06|
|52-week range||47.00 - 57.77|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.36|
|PE ratio (TTM)||23.18|
|Earnings date||30 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||1.64 (3.21%)|
|Ex-dividend date||20 Feb 2020|
|1y target est||51.42|
G A Chester highlights two top-quality FTSE 100 businesses whose shares are trading at double-digit discounts to their previous highs.The post 2 FTSE 100 stocks I'd buy in this market crash appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- When Laxman Narasimhan cut the full-year outlook for Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc in October, the company’s new chief executive officer threw in everything but the kitchen sink.On Thursday, he completed his demolition job of expectations at the maker of everything from Durex condoms to Dettol disinfectant, saying the operating margin would be much lower in the future and announcing a 5 billion-pound ($6.5 billion) writedown to the value of the Mead Johnson baby-formula business, which Reckitt bought just three years ago for $17 billion.Easing back on Reckitt’s margin expectations was essential, as it gives it the space to make some much-need investments to boost sales. Even in 2019, when its results were hurt by a poor flu season and the continued underperformance of Mead’s infant nutrition products, its operating margin was 26.2%, well ahead of Unilever’s 19.1% and Nestle’s 17.6%.Reckitt aims to invest about 2 billion pounds over the next three years to try to deliver mid-single digit organic revenue growth. It rose by just 0.8% in 2019. Part of this will be funded by 1.3 billion pounds of cost savings. But there will also be a hit to the margin of 3.5 percentage points this year, much bigger than the market had expected.Relaxing the margin also leaves room to change Reckitt’s hard-driving culture, which has historically obsessed about controlling costs and short-term earnings. Martin Deboo, an analyst at Jefferies, anticipates an operating margin of 22.7% in 2020. The company wants to return to a margin percentage in the mid-20s eventually.The new CEO has also signaled portfolio change. He has ditched a plan to split Reckitt into its hygiene and home business — owner of brands such as the Cillit Bang cleaner and Vanish stain remover — and its health arm, which owns Nurofen painkillers and Scholl foot products. Reckitt will now remain as a single company, but with three divisions: hygiene; health and nutrition.This structure, together with the whopper writedown, suggests that the nutrition business — primarily Mead Johnson — might be for sale at the right price. That is wise, given the poor performance of baby milk since Reckitt acquired Mead. The foray into formula under former CEO Rakesh Kapoor looks like a colossal waste of money. Reckitt also missed out on buying Pfizer’s consumer health unit, a far better fit, because it was busy digesting Mead Johnson and needed to cut debt.Narasimham says Reckitt’s problems are operational. Still, fixing them won’t be straightforward, particularly with any coronavirus related disruption to consumption and supply chains. Given the economic context, the new growth and operating margin targets look a stretch.Also, an activist investor might be tempted to push for a breakup if his strategy doesn’t work, particularly if the shares, which fell about 5% on Thursday, decline further. The now abandoned plan to split the hygiene and home division from the health unit might have delivered value.If Narasimham doesn’t clean up at Reckitt, a hedge fund may try to do the job for him.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
These two FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) shares could offer long-term growth potential, in my opinion.The post Forget buy-to-let! I’d buy these 2 FTSE 100 stocks today to make a million appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Dan Loeb’s Third Point LLC says it has a history of working constructively with boards to promote the success of their companies. The activist’s latest goal seems to involve removing the board of Prudential Plc entirely, and dismantling the head office around it, as part of a breakup of the $48 billion insurer.That may not be as hard as it sounds.Once focused on Britain, Prudential has transformed into a large Asian insurer with a smaller U.S. business attached. Its shares suffer under a stark valuation discount to Hong Kong-listed peer AIA Group Ltd., and Loeb has set out a plausible explanation for why. The reason, he says, is that the Asian side needs capital to grow, but competes with shareholders for dividends. Likewise, the U.S. business would be better off conserving cash in support of its own capital strength. Meanwhile, most investors don’t want to invest in an Asian-U.S. hybrid insurer.The remedy sounds simple: Split Prudential into separate U.S. and Asian businesses with their own stock listings and dividend policies. The Asian shares would probably command a much higher valuation than whole the group does now, providing an acquisition currency that would be a cheap source of growth capital. At the same time, scrapping the conglomerate structure would eliminate the need for a costly corporate center based in London.None of this is likely to be a huge surprise to Prudential’s directors. The board has already been simplifying the company, mainly by spinning off the M&G Plc asset management business. That move has failed to address the valuation gap, so the next logical step would be to jettison the U.S. subsidiary and become a pure Asia play. Prudential’s chairman, Paul Manduca, is retiring next year anyway, and Chief Executive Officer Mike Wells has been in the role for five years. Manduca’s successor, banker and former government minister Shriti Vadera, has a chance to be radical.The real opponents to Loeb’s ideas are more likely to be found among Prudential’s long-term investors. Third Point is a new arrival taking on a longstanding problem. But Prudential has a large number of U.K. investors whose own narrow interests may be served by keeping it in its current form, paying high dividends via a London-listed share. Recall that consumer giant Unilever NV encountered huge resistance to an attempt to simplify its structure in 2018, while plumbing group Ferguson Plc is moving with extreme care about a possible re-domicile for the same reason.Loeb argues Prudential in two pieces would be worth twice what it is today. He may be right, but if a breakup involves a dividend cut along the way, it won’t be plain sailing.To contact the author of this story: Chris Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Hughes is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals. He previously worked for Reuters Breakingviews, as well as the Financial Times and the Independent newspaper.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Shanghai has compiled a list of firms, including local units of multi-nationals Unilever PLC and 3M Co, as eligible for millions of dollars in subsidised loans to ease any blow from the coronavirus outbreak, according to bankers and documents seen by Reuters. In an economically bruising three weeks, China has cordoned off cities and suspended transport links in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Some lenders in the city have each received a list of firms compiled by the Shanghai branches of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), according to seven bankers, each at a different lender.
Unilever (LON:ULVR) is a large cap Personal Products operator which sells its products in more than 190 countries. Its brands include Axe, Dirt is Good (Omo),8230;
Roland Head explains how he'd prepare for the next stock market crash.The post Why a market crash could be a great buying opportunity appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
Rupert Hargreaves explains why he's staking his retirement on these two FTSE 100 blue-chips. The post 2 FTSE 100 dividend growth stocks I'd buy today for a rising passive income appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
Looking for a life partner? Royston Wild talks about a FTSE 100 dividend stock he thinks you should definitely 'swipe right' on.The post Everlasting love! A FTSE 100 dividend growth stock I’ll never leave appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It isn’t just Unilever NV that’s struggling to sell more food. Rival Nestle SA now expects to come up short of its self-imposed sales-growth target this year, and it’s counting on acquisitions to put it back on track.While Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider met the lower end of a goal for underlying operating margin 12 months early, it will take at least another year for the owner of the Nesquik and Nespresso brands to reach and sustain its annual sales growth objective of 4-6%, partly due to the effect of disposals.It’s a rare misstep for Nestle’s first external CEO for almost 100 years. Even with the 2% drop on Thursday, the shares are up more than 40% since his arrival in January 2017, outpacing Unilever. While Schneider’s made a good start selling off underperformers and making purchases in faster growing areas, such as coffee, pet food and meat substitutes, more reshaping is needed. He has traded — either acquired or moved out of — businesses that accounted for about 12% of total sales in 2017. That’s ahead of his target for changing up 10% by the end of 2020. He’s not done yet. From here the focus will be more on acquisitions than disposals.While expanding in the right growth markets is key, Schneider should also go further in pruning the Swiss food giant. Possible culprits for offloading could be parts of the U.S. frozen foods business, especially pizzas, or some water assets, such as those mainstream brands that can’t be taken up market. The fact that Nestle wrote down the value of its Yinlu business in China could be a prelude to an exit from difficult divisions, for example making peanut milk. However, selling off these businesses may be trickier than previous disposals in confectionery, skincare and ice cream.There’s also a risk that Schneider, in an effort to turbocharge growth, becomes less disciplined when he buys. He indicated that he’s open to a wide array of options, the most promising being small or mid-sized purchases, particularly in the hot market for nutrition and metabolism. He lamented that last year was heavy on disposals, but light on purchases. That should change this year, but he shouldn’t be too eager and so strike rash deals.Schneider is comfortable in the pharmaceutical space, having led German healthcare company Fresenius SE before joining Nestle. Medical nutrition not only has higher growth prospects and margins than many food areas, but it is also less constrained by competition rules because Nestle doesn’t have such a big position. He most recently bolstered Nestle’s medical nutrition arm by acquiring gastrointestinal medication Zenpep and increased the investment in Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which has developed a product to counter the effects of peanut allergies. It indicates that this area, particularly treatments related to the body’s metabolism, is likely to be a bigger focus.To fund any large-scale ambitions, Schneider has Nestle’s stake in L’Oreal SA, worth about 35 billion euros ($38 billion), to play with. The company has always said that it won’t part with this holding unless it has a strategic use for the proceeds, but but he seemed to be more open to an exit on Thursday. Small- to medium-sized deals wouldn’t require any change. A bigger transaction — which can’t be ruled out — might.Either way, Schneider can’t afford to take the wrong turn. Not only is activist Dan Loeb still on the register, but Nestle’s valuation has increased significantly under his tenure. The shares trade on about 22 times forward earnings, compared with about 20 times for Unilever.The premium is justified by Unilever’s recent sales stumble, as well as its slower pace of portfolio change and less focused approach to acquisitions. That doesn’t mean Nestle won’t be punished if it disappoints in the same way as its rival.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Sime Darby Plantation, the world's largest palm oil planter, has suspended two Malaysian suppliers for failing to meet its environmental standards and identified 55 others as "high-risk" in recent months as it fights against deforestation. Sime Darby is potentially one of the biggest losers from a European backlash against an industry accused of clearing vast areas of tropical rainforest to make way for plantations. Company officials said this was the first such action taken since the launch of an online tool last May which allows anyone to trace the sources of its palm oil and raise complaints if necessary.
Jabran Khan reacts to Unilever announcing its slowest quarterly growth in a decade.The post Why I think this FTSE 100 income stock is set for a poor 2020 appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
These two FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) shares could offer long-term income growth in my view.The post No savings at 50? I’d buy these 2 FTSE 100 stocks to boost a passive income in retirement appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Cars and cigarettes have at least one thing in common these days: They are both being disrupted by more modern alternatives. So Stefan Bomhard, the chief executive officer of car dealer Inchcape Plc, should have some idea of what he’ll face when he takes the reins at U.K. cigarette maker Imperial Brands Plc.It isn’t easy to find executives willing to move to the much-aligned tobacco industry. But Bomhard looks a good CEO choice for Imperial, which sells Lambert & Butler cigarettes and Blu vapes. The company had decided to part ways with Alison Cooper in October, a week after a profit warning. She will now step down as with immediate effect.Bomhard did a solid job at Inchcape. While the shares are down about 18% since he became CEO in April 2015, underperforming the FTSE All-Share Index, conditions in car dealing haven’t been easy since Britain voted to leave the European Union and consumer confidence crumbled. It’s still a much better performance than the FTSE All-Share General Retailers Index.The downside is that Bomhard doesn’t have any tobacco experience. But this is less of an issue than it would be in, say, general retailing. Imperial will have plenty of executives with many years’ worth of knowledge of the traditional cigarette business, still the biggest and most profitable part of the group. And he should be able to pull on his prior experience with big global brands in the race to grab market share for Imperial’s new products, whatever they may be.The new chief executive spent his career in consumer goods before joining Inchcape, with roles at spirits company Bicardi, chocolate and candy maker Cadbury, and consumer-goods giant Unilever. That should put him in good stead as Imperial attempts to pivot to alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which could in turn, pave the way for it to diversify into dispensing other adult, highly regulated products, such as cannabis.When Bomhard takes up the role at a yet to be determined date, his first task will be to get to grips with the crisis in the U.S. vaping industry. The company is evaluating the impact of the recent Food and Drug Administration ban on flavors aside from menthol and tobacco for pod-based electronic cigarettes, the type it makes.Then Bomhard will have to work quickly to decide where best to focus Imperial’s attention, and investment. Although the group has strong positions in vaping and oral nicotine, it only entered the heat-not-burn market relatively recently. He must decide whether to expand in this category, which has not been drawn into the crisis in the U.S. vaping industry.He could also look at reshaping other aspects of Imperial’s business, including traditional cigarettes. The company is already seeking to raise up to 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) through disposals, including a sale of its premium cigar business. But he could go further, say selling off parts of the portfolio in Asia and Africa, and returning the proceeds to shareholders, or investing more in tobacco alternatives.Either way, Bomhard must take decisive action. Shares in Imperial have fallen more than 20% over the past year, and they trade at a 40% discount to Bloomberg Intelligence’s global tobacco manufacturing valuation peer group. The company even lags Altria Group Inc., which is reeling from its disastrous investment in vaping company Juul Labs Inc.Imperial has long been seen as an acquisition target, with Japan Tobacco Inc. tipped as the most obvious contender. Another possibility would be for Japan Tobacco and British American Tobacco Plc to carve up Imperial’s empire between them along geographical lines. So if Bomhard doesn’t light up the Imperial share price, a bigger rival just might.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Matthew Dumigan puts forward a case for two exceptional UK-listed companies.The post 2 FTSE 100 stocks I’d buy now and hold forever appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg) -- India’s benchmark stock index fell as it capped its worst January since 2016 as the government grapples with measures to spur the slowing economy.The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.5% to 40,723.49 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Mumbai, resulting in a monthly loss of 1.3%, its worst such performance since July and start to the year since 2016. The NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 0.6%.Local markets will open Saturday, enabling investors to trade as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman outlines India’s annual budget as the government seeks to revive demand. Growth in Asia’s third largest economy is at its slowest pace in more than a decade.As earnings season progresses, 14 out of 26 Nifty 50 companies that have reported results for the quarter through December have missed analyst estimates. ITC, Hindustan Unilever, and Vedanta are due to post results today.Strategist View“There are a lot of expectations on the positive side for the budget,” said Sanjiv Bhasin, an analyst at IIFL Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. “The recent market correction gave investors a good buying opportunity.”The NumbersThirteen of 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a gauge of oil and gas companies.Nineteen Sensex shares rose while 11 fellReliance Industreies contributed most to the index decline with a 2.1% fall, ONGC had the biggest drop, falling 5.8%Related StoriesIndia Braces for Deficit Blowout, Higher Borrowing: Budget GuideRichest Asian Banker Ends Feud With RBI, Agrees to Cut Stake To contact the reporter on this story: Ronojoy Mazumdar in Mumbai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lianting Tu at email@example.com, Margo TowieFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever plc (LON:ULVR) is struggling to grow, but the investment case remains sound, thinks Paul Summers.The post Is now the perfect time to buy FTSE 100 stalwart Unilever? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Alan Jope’s efforts to instill purpose into the British heritage tea brand, PG Tips, have been all about bringing people together over a nice cup of tea. Now Unilever NV’s chief executive officer wants to cleave the tired tea business apart from the rest of the consumer giant.He’s conducting a strategic review of the division, which also includes the Lipton and Pure Leaf lines, that could lead to a sale or partnership, and possibly even herald a broader exit from the group’s sluggish food business. Facing the slowest quarterly growth in a decade, even before any impact from the deadly coronavirus, Jope must improve performance at the company whose businesses range from Dove soap to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.Tackling tea, where demand has shifted away from the traditional black beverage to flavorful herbal options, is a good start. The unit, including its operations in emerging markets, generates annual sales of about 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion). Martin Deboo, an analyst at Jefferies, estimates it could be worth about 6 billion euros, assuming a multiple of two times sales.Jope, a long-time Unilever veteran, should have scrutinized Unilever’s portfolio earlier in his tenure that began just over a year ago. But now that he’s finally grasped the nettle, he should go further. His predecessor Paul Polman sold the margarine and spreads arm in the wake of the $143 billion approach from Kraft Heinz Co. three years ago. But since then meaningful disposals in the division have stalledThe food and refreshments unit as a whole generates about 20 billion euros a year of sales, and could have an enterprise value of about 60 billion euros, according to Deboo. Selling it off would leave Unilever concentrated on the household and personal care businesses, which Jope previously oversaw, potentially lifting the company’s growth rate, and its valuation.But such a chunky disposal would require a buyer with a big appetite. Kraft Heinz, already highly leveraged, would struggle. Private equity firms may be interested, but it would still be a large transaction, likely requiring more than one player to join forces.So a more piecemeal approach looks sensible. Other disposal candidates beyond tea are dressings, with annual sales of of about 3 billion euros; savory sauces, stocks and food, including Pot Noodle, with revenue of 6 billion euros; and ice cream, which generates about 7 billion euros of sales. While still sizable deals, they are not impossible for a buy-out group to digest. As my colleague Chris Hughes and I have argued, food businesses may be expanding more slowly, but their stable cash flows can support borrowings, and there is scope to lift margins.Unilever shares, which rose as much as 2% in London on Thursday, are still above their level at the time of Kraft Heinz’s bid in February 2017. But they are at a significant discount to rival Nestle SA. Its CEO, Mark Schneider, is already doing many of the things that Jope should, selling off underperformers for good prices and recycling the proceeds into focused acquisitions.As I have long argued, Kraft Heinz isn’t in a position to come back. But an activist investor might be tempted to weigh in. At current valuations, the prospect of a breakup may be more appealing to a hedge fund than even a double cherry Magnum. So it would be good for Jope to share a brew with some willing private equity buyers. Otherwise he might find it’s an aggressive investor he’s bringing closer. That would make for a far less cosy cuppa.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.As the flat white trounces black tea, Lipton owner Unilever is weighing a sale of one of its best-known brands.The Anglo-Dutch giant initiated a review of its global tea business, which includes the more than century-old label and generates sales of almost 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion). The move comes after the company’s slowest quarterly growth in a decade.Unilever is following a consumer shift to coffee as a primary source of caffeine, with takeaway cafes proliferating from London to Beijing and capsule-spewing espresso machines supplanting kettles on kitchen counters around the world.In the U.K., almost 900 million fewer cups of tea were drunk over the 12 months through May 2018, according to trade publication The Grocer. Even those who eschew coffee are giving a pass to the traditional cup of English Breakfast or Earl Grey, opting for herbal alternatives.Demand for black tea has been “slowing in developed markets for several years due to changing consumer preferences,” Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly said on a call. The strategic review “could include a whole range of options -- no ownership, partial ownership.”Spreads SaleThe review accelerates Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope’s restructuring of the owner of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which has been hurt by sluggish demand for big brands. Under predecessor Paul Polman, Unilever sold its margarine and spreads business to KKR & Co. for about $8 billion. The company tried to profit from growth in herbal tea by acquiring the Pukka brand in 2017.The shares rose as much as 1.6% early Thursday in Amsterdam. The tea review is expected to conclude by midyear.The company posted 1.5% growth in underlying sales in the fourth quarter, just above a consensus analyst estimate but still the slowest in a decade. For the full year, sales declined 0.5% in the developed world as shoppers switched to supermarkets’ own-label products and higher-priced niche products.Rival Nestle SA, which has a portfolio of coffee brands including Nescafe and Nespresso, has also launched a sweeping overhaul of its overall lineup, including recent deals to divest portions of its luncheon-meat and ice cream businesses. In 2017, Starbucks Corp. announced that it would close all of its 379 mall-based Teavana stores due to persistent underperformance.Unilever’s strategic review of tea suggests there might be “wider action on the portfolio,” Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo said in a note.Jope has been quicker than his predecessor to rethink Unilever’s business. In 2014, Polman separated the spreads business into a standalone unit, but it wasn’t sold until three years later, after Unilever rejected an unsolicited takeover approach for the whole company from Kraft Heinz Co.Personal CareUnilever’s personal-care business, the company’s largest, is struggling too. In the latest period it was hurt by weak pricing of shampoo and other hair products in the U.S.The souring performance comes a month after Jope warned investors that sales gains would be below earlier guidance in 2019 and in the lower half of its expected range this year.The results cap a tough first year at the helm for Jope. The company will act faster on backing new products when they’re successful or divesting them when they’re not, he said on a conference call with analysts. Managers can tell after about 100 days whether a new product is worth more investment or should be discontinued.Tea has been around much longer, but now looks like it could be one of the first targets for Jope’s cull.“It has been significantly dilutive to growth for the past ten years,” the CEO said on a call.To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Buckley in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at email@example.com, Marthe FourcadeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Jope has previously said the company was invested in turning around the tea business over the longer term, but the change of plan could soothe concerns of investors who have lamented a lack of urgency in transforming Unilever's struggling food and refreshment business. "We will look at all options for the (tea) business," Unilever finance chief Graeme Pitkethly said after the company's results on Thursday showed group sales grew at their slowest in a decade over the past quarter.