By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

A mixed set of results from European giants including Nestle and Unilever kept stocks within a tight range on Thursday.

Nestle (NESN.EB) slipped 0.9% after reporting 3.7% organic sales growth over nine months and announcing it would repurchase 20 billion francs of new shares through 2022. "On 22x forward earnings Nestle probably needs to upside surprise: with topline inline and the new buyback widely expected today's results are solid but probably not enough to drive the shares near term," said Morgan Stanley in a research note.

Unilever (ULVR.LN) shares rose 2% as the Anglo-Dutch household products group reported 2.9% underlying sales growth in the third quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/unilever-underlying-sales-rise-29-2019-10-17), and said sales by that metric will be at the lower half of its 3% to 5% range for the full year.

"While this is no more than an in-line result, volumes are ahead of our expectations and positive pricing compares favorably to NESN's result this morning, albeit flattered by the re-consolidation of a proportion of Argentina inflation," said analysts at Jefferies.

Pernod Ricard (RI.FR) shares fell 2.9% as the French beverages group said fiscal first quarter sales grew a slower than forecast 1.3%.

Telecom equipment maker Ericsson (ERIC-B.SK) shot up nearly 7% as the company lifted its sales and margin targets. See: Ericsson lifts sales, margin targets as operators continue 5G spending spree (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ericsson-lifts-sales-margin-targets-as-operators-continue-5g-spending-spree-2019-10-17-41035236)

The major stock market indexes didn't move much, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.17% to 394.12.

The German DAX rose 0.24% to 12700.14, the French CAC 40 added 0.08% to 5701.38 and the U.K. FTSE 100 increased 0.35% to 7193.02.

The British pound drifted lower as the Northern Irish political party the DUP said it rejected a proposed Brexit deal "as things stand."

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 17, 2019 05:30 ET (09:30 GMT)

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