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Unilever Spooks Markets

September 30, 2013

Shares slide after Polman's comments.

Sometimes, bad news hurts everybody. Unilever's warning of slowing sales growth due to weakness in emerging markets weighed on rival consumer goods stocks including Procter & Gamble.

The British-Dutch maker of Dove soap, Lipton tea and Ben & Jerry's ice cream expects sales growth of 3% to 3.5% in the third quarter. It cited a slowdown in emerging markets that "has accelerated as a result of significant currency weakening" and said developed markets remain "flat to down."

But it expects full-year results to stay on track. Analysts consensus estimates call for $2.17 this year.

"We continue to grow ahead of our markets and expect underlying sales growth to improve in quarter four," CEO Paul Polman said in a statement. "For 2013 we are still on course to deliver against our priorities of profitable volume growth ahead of our markets, steady and sustainable core operating margin improvement and strong cash flow."

The news rattled shares of other consumer goods makers that also have exposure to emerging markets. Procter & Gamble was down 1.3% to $76.23, Kimberly-Clark dropped 0.5% to $94.32 and Colgate Palmolive fell 3 cents to $59.90.
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