British consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser Group has reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter sales growth, helped by improvements in both its health and home and hygiene businesses.
Reckitt, once seen as a pacemaker for growth in the packaged goods industry, has experienced setbacks in the last three years, including a cyber attack and the temporary shutdown of a baby milk factory in the Netherlands, among others.
But it ended 2018 on a high note, reporting like-for-like sales up 4%, topping analysts' average estimate of 3.3% growth in a company-supplied consensus.
For the full year, net revenue came in at £12.60 billion, with like-for-like sales up 3%.
Adjusted earnings per share were 339.9 pence, the maker of Enfamil formula, Durex condoms and Lysol cleaners said on Monday.
Analysts on average were expecting full-year revenue of £12.59 billion, with like-for-like sales up 2.7% and earnings per share of 327.9 pence.
Looking ahead, Reckitt forecast 2019 like-for-like growth, with adjusted operating margin maintained.
“As we look to the future, we are well positioned for long term, sustainable growth, from the excellent portfolio of brands within each of our more focussed and agile Business Units,” commented Rakesh Kapoor, the business’ chief executive.
“For 2019 we expect momentum to continue, and target +3-4% LFL net revenue growth. We expect to maintain the adjusted operating margin as we generate our usual RB cost and efficiency savings, and deploy them into building two even stronger businesses.”
Analysts were looking for 3.5% growth for 2019.