Unilever Q1 revenue up 12 pct, beating forecasts

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LONDON (AP) — Unilever PLC, the consumer goods group behind Lipton teas, Dove soaps and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, has raised its quarterly dividend after reporting a 12 percent gain in revenue, beating market forecasts.

Unilever said Thursday that total income in the first three months of the year was €12.1 billion ($16 billion), helped by the acquisitions of U.S.-based Alberto Culver and Russian cosmetics maker Kalina.

The company raised the first-quarter dividend by 8 percent to €0.243.

Underlying sales, which strip out the impact of acquisitions and disposals, were up 8.4 percent.

Unilever did not report earnings in the trading update.

Keith Bowman, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, noted that Unilever's results benefited from comparison with a weak performance a year ago, plus the effect of an extra day in February and an early date for Easter.

The company's shares were up 3 percent at >21.43 in midday trading in London.

"There is no doubt in our mind that the underlying results here are likely to lead to a reappraisal of Unilever's prospects this year and beyond," analysts at Canaccord Genuity said in a research note.

"We anticipate moving our forecasts and price target up on further analysis."

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