Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s largest consumer goods maker, on Thursday reported a 9.56% increase in June quarter profit from the year-ago period, marginally missing Street estimates after what it called “unprecedented inflation” in key input materials.

Revenue grew 12.83% as it reported double-digit growth across the three categories it operates in—beauty and personal care, home care, and foods and refreshments. But this was helped by a lower base in the year-ago quarter and a return to “normalized” demand during the more severe second wave of covid infections in comparison with 2020.

Profit came in at 2,061 crore, compared with 2,211.10 crore estimated by 10 brokerages. The maker of Rin and Surf detergent, Lux and Dove soaps, and Kissan ketchup reported a revenue of 11,915 crore, up from 10,560 crore a year ago, and missing estimates of 12,168.40 crore by 11 brokerages.

Rural markets were resilient and demand rebounded in June and early July, it said, while reporting a 9% volume growth. India’s second covid wave saw lockdowns in several states in April and May. However, restrictions were eased and supply chains suffered fewer disruptions.

As cases decline further and mobility picks up, demand for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) is rebounding to touch March levels, the company’s top management said.

“After hitting the peak in May, cases declined sharply in June, and mobility started to improve. FMCG demand was severely impacted in May; however, in June it rebounded to March 2021 levels led by rural​,” Ritesh Tiwari, executive director, finance and chief financial officer, HUL, said.

The rebound in June and early July was led by rural markets, he said.

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