Sales beat boosts Unilever's argument to go it alone

Excluding Unilever's under-pressure spreads business, which the company is looking to either sell or de-merge, underlying sales from the food division rose 1.7%, with volumes down 1%.

In February, it rebuffed a takeover by United States rival Kraft Heinz.

That is above analyst expectations for a sales increase of 2%.

Seahawks will not match 49ers offer to restricted free agent Garry Gilliam
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Consumer goods giant Unilever PLC on Thursday said it is on track for its underlying sales growth target in 2017, after reporting an increase in turnover for the first quarter. Volumes fell, trimming 0.1 percentage point off Unilever's underlying sales growth. "Their mission to bring "integrity and charm to ordinary and overlooked food" is very much in line with our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan". But with Unilever CEO calling margarines "a declining segment", any potential buyer will need to realise some serious synergies in order for the deal to be worthwhile.

Unilever's sales growth of 2.9% exceeded analyst predictions of 1.9% as the Hellmann's mayonnaise provider issued its first results announcement since rebuffing a takeover approach from Kraft Heinz Co.

In a statement, Chief Executive Paul Polman said the results reconfirmed the strength of Unilever's business model.

IS claims attack near Egyptian monastery
Egypt's Christian minority comprises about 10% of the predominantly Muslim country of 92 million people. Catherine's monastery in South Sinai, Egypt on Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding four others.

The strategy review to improve shareholder value was launched at the end of February after the shock of a failed bid move for the Anglo-Dutch group by United States food giant Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC). The gains outpaced growth in many markets, but were not uniform. The US company, which turns over less than half the amount that Unilever does, wanted to expand its presence in Europe but was so firmly rebuked that it "amicably agreed" to withdraw all interest in the purchase. It remains unclear whether that means delisting the company in the Netherlands; Unilever's global headquarters are located in London.

The company said the growth it saw in ice cream "was helped by strong innovations behind our premium brands", including the recently-launched Magnum in tubs.

The challenge facing the industry is that some cost increases are provoking consumers to reduce purchases: Nestle said higher pricing weighed on shipments in Europe and also at its baby-food unit.

Andy Murray beaten by Albert Ramos-Vinolas at Monte Carlo Masters
The Spaniard swept the first set 6-0 against 45th-ranked Edmund, but found himself fighting for survival in the third set. Clay has been very profitable for the Scot over the last two years having previously been by far his weakest surface.

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