What Are The Factors Behind Unilever’s Expected Lack Of Revenue Growth Between 2018 and 2020?

UL: Unilever logo

Unilever’s (NYSE: UL) total revenue has grown from $58.35 billion in 2016 to $60.41 billion in 2018, on the back of strong growth in personal care revenue, which grew from $22.33 billion to $24.44 billion over the same period. However, adverse foreign currency fluctuations and a lack of growth in the foods and refreshments segment is expected to weigh on total revenue, which is expected to remain roughly stagnant, coming in at around $60.49 billion in 2020. Home care revenue is expected to continue seeing slow growth, going from $12.01 billion in 2018 to $12.2 billion in 2020.


  • Unilever’s Personal Care division, is expected to contribute $24.44 billion to total revenue in 2019, making up almost 41% of Unilever’s $59.75 billion revenue estimate.
  • The Foods and Refreshments division comes close behind and is expected to bring in $23.25 billion in 2019, to make up 39% of the total revenue estimate.
  • The Personal Care business will provide $2.6 billion, over 121% of the $2.14 billion growth in Unilever’s revenue between 2016 and 2020.
  • This revenue growth, combined with a drop in shares outstanding, has helped drive Unilever’s share price by more than 40% since December 2016.
  • In our interactive dashboard Unilever Revenue: How Does Unilever Make Money?, we discuss Unilever’s business model followed by sections that review past performance and 2020 expectations for Unilever’s revenue, alongside competitive comparisons with Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble.

A look at Unilever’s segments and their contribution to total revenue

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(A) Personal Care Revenue to grow by around $500 million over the next 2 years, to make up 41% of the total revenue estimate in 2020

  • Unilever’s personal care division is the company’s largest, and has grown from $22.33 billion in 2016 to $24.44 billion in 2018.
  • This division is comprised of household brands such as Axe, Dove, Lux, Sunsilk, Lifebuoy, and Vaseline.
  • Unilever has increased the focus on its personal care division over the last 4 years, and this has helped drive a $1 billion per year growth in this segment over the past 2 years.
  • However, currency headwinds and slowing emerging market demand could weigh on revenue, which could struggle to cross $25 billion by 2020.

(B) Foods & Refreshments revenue to drop $600 million over the next 2 years, to make up 39% of total revenue in 2020

  • The foods & refreshments segment includes the foods, ice cream, and beverages categories, and comprises household names such as Knorr, Magnum, Lipton, Brooke Bond, and Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Unilever sold off its spreads business to KKR for about $8 billion in 2018, and Unilever has since reduced the focus on this segment.
  • We expect revenue from this segment to drop to around $23.37 billion by 2020.

(C) Home Care revenue to add around $200 million over the next 2 years, to make up the remaining 20% of 2020’s revenue estimate

  • The home care segment comprises of leading brands such as Surf, Comfort, Domestos, Pureit, and Blueair.
  • Revenue from this segment has grown from $11.08 billion in 2016 to $12.01 billion in 2018.
  • We expect this metric to further grow to $12.2 billion by 2020.


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