India’s biggest consumer goods company has done better than expected. Robust consumer demand helped Hindustan Unilever glide towards both strong profits and revenues. Net profit for the first quarter went up 18% to Rs627 crore. And revenue climbed 15% to Rs5,504 crore. HUL’s numbers were strengthened by a one-time gain of Rs58 crore from the sale of some property. But customers also played their part.
Underlying volume growth was 8.3%. Price rise meanwhile was at a lower six-plus percent. The home and personal care business gained 15.4%. And the food business expanded 14.9%. But despite the growth, HUL’s operating profit margin for the quarter went down by 45 basis points. That in turn sent it shares tumbling 0.98% on the BSE to 322.70.
In other news, India’s food ministry has made it clear it’s opposed to the idea of exporting wheat. On Thursday union food and consumer affairs minister K.V. Thomas said excess stock of wheat grain should instead be distributed among the poor. He added that an empowered group of ministers has deferred a decision on lifting the ban on selling wheat overseas. Indian wheat currently costs more than wheat does internationally, which is why the government is considering a small subsidy for exporters. Earlier this month, authorities approved the export of 1 million tonnes on non-basmati rice, which has a lower price tag than rice sold on international markets.
Indian markets made losses for a third straight session thanks to continuing worries about the effects of high interest rates. The Sensex dropped 223 points to 18,210. And the Nifty fell 59 to 5,488.