Hindustan Unilever’s Shares Fall Despite Announcing Rs 22 Dividend

HUL to prioritises volume growth over profit margins, street awaits recovery.

Shares of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) fell more than 2% in trade on Friday as the fast-moving consumer goods giant declared a dividend of Rs 22 per share in its fourth-quarter results. Sentiment turned bearish as management commented that the operating environment is shaky amid an uncertain global backdrop, with high inflation and looming weather vagaries impacting the demand in rural India.

HUL posted a net profit of Rs 2,552 crore, up 10% year-on-year. The maker of the famous detergent brand Surf Excel posted total sales of Rs 14,638 crore for the quarter, up 11% year-on-year. In FY22-23, the total sales will be Rs 58,154 crore (up 16%). EBITDA rose 9%, profit after tax excluding special items rose 11%, and profit after tax rose 13%.

On Thursday, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) declared a final dividend of Rs 22 per share for the financial year ending March 2023, representing a payout ratio of 2,200% given the par value of Re 1 per share. The latest dividend brings the company’s total dividend for the year to Rs 39 per share.

Major brokerages cut their price targets on Hindustan Unilever while mostly keeping their ratings unchanged. Jefferies has lowered its target price to Rs 2,875 from Rs 3,100 earlier while maintaining a “buy” call. Morgan Stanely maintained an “equal weight” rating and dropped its target price to Rs 2,408 a share from Rs 2,497. JPMorgan also lowered its price target to Rs 2,750 from Rs 2,800 while maintaining an “overweight” stance. Citi maintained its “buy” call with a lower target price of Rs 2,900 from Rs 3,000. HSBC maintained its “buy” call and lowered its target price to Rs 2,950 from Rs 3,050 previously.

Meanwhile, HUL shares opened at Rs 2,454.10 a share on the BSE, down more than 0.5% from its previous close of Rs 2,468.20 and fell further to a session low of Rs 2,419.60.

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