Price increases helped Unilever report a smaller-than-expected slowdown in third-quarter sales on Thursday.

The maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap reported underlying sales growth of 3.2 percent for the latest three months. Analysts on average expected growth of 2.9 percent, according to a company-supplied consensus, a slowdown from 4.7 percent in the first half of the year.

The company in July said it was expecting full-year sales to grow 3-5 percent, with margins improving in the historical range of 0.3-0.4 percentage points, rather than the 0.5 points it delivered in the first half.

It had flagged a worsening of performance, due to tougher comparisons with an unusually strong third quarter last year and deterioration of economic conditions in markets such as Brazil and Argentina.