Emerging markets lift Unilever sales

THE HAGUE - The Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever said Thursday that its first quarter sales soared 11.9 percent to 12.14 billion euros ($16 billion), lifted mostly by emerging market demand.

"Emerging markets, now 56 percent of the business, have again delivered strong growth," said chief executive Paul Polman in a statement.

Sales in those markets grew by 11.9 percent, while developed ones posted an expansion of 4.2 percent.

Polman warned that the "external macro-economic environment remains difficult and higher input cost headwinds persist," but the group said it was maintaining its targets of an improved profit margin for 2012.

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