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Unilever Unveils New Stock Buyback Plan as Its CEO Calls for Better Performance

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Key Takeaways

  • Unilever announced a new 1.5 billion-euro share repurchase plan, boosting its stock even as the company reported disappointing earnings.
  • The maker of consumer products posted declines in its fourth quarter earnings and revenue.
  • CEO Hein Schumacher called the results “disappointing” and said Unilever has to improve its performance.

Shares of Unilever Plc (UL) advanced as the consumer products giant boosted its stock buyback program, and its CEO argued that the company has to do better.

The London-based maker of Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise announced it was launching a new 1.5 billion-euro ($1.61 billion) share repurchase beginning in the second quarter. The company noted it completed its previous 3 billion-euro ($3.22 billion) stock buyback in 2023.

Unilever reported that fourth-quarter revenue fell 3% to 14.2 billion euros ($15.3 billion) as the company’s market share in North America and Europe shrank. For the full year, revenue was down 0.8%. Diluted earnings per share for 2023 fell 14.2% to 2.56 euros ($2.75).

CEO Hein Schumacher, who took over in January 2023, said “our competitiveness remains disappointing and overall performance needs to improve.” He added that Unilever launched a “Growth Action Plan” in October that prioritized “delivering higher-quality growth, stepping up productivity and simplicity, and adopting a strong performance focus.”

Schumacher noted that the turnaround effort is in the early stages, but the company is “moving with speed and urgency to transform Unilever into a consistently higher performing business.” 

American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) of Unilever were up 3.5% at $50.58 around 1:00 p.m. ET. With Thursday’s gain, the stock edged into positive territory for the past year.

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