January 17, 2019 / 8:03 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Beiersdorf's new CEO pledges action as sales growth slows

* 2018 sales up 5.4 pct to 7.233 bln

* 2018 EBIT margin set to be at same level as 2017

* Full figures due on Feb. 27

* Shares indicated up 1 pct (Adds details, background)

By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The new chief executive of Nivea skin creams maker Beiersdorf promised strategic steps in 2019 to deliver sustainable growth after reporting slower sales in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Beiersdorf shares, which have fallen 9 percent in the last year, were indicated up 1 percent in pre-market trade, outperforming a weaker German blue chip index.

“We will take further key strategic steps in 2019 to unlock Beiersdorf’s future potential and to be able to further deliver a sustainable growth,” Stefan De Loecker, who took over as CEO on Jan. 1, said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter sales, excluding currency moves and acquisitions, rose 5.4 percent to 7.233 billion euros ($8.23 billion) in 2018, slower than the 6 percent growth seen in the first nine months, the Hamburg-based company said.

Full-year sales growth at its consumer business slowed to 5 percent from 5.6 percent in the first nine months. It saw growth in all its major skincare brands, including Nivea, Eucerin and La Prairie.

Its Tesa adhesives unit, which supplies the automotive and electronics industries, saw sales rise 6.8 percent, down from 7.8 percent in the first nine months.

Beiersdorf, which is scheduled to report 2018 figures on Feb. 27, said its operating profit margin will be at the same level as in 2017.

$1 = 0.8787 euros Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Riham Alkousaa and Jason Neely

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