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TheStreet Open House

[video]Kimberly-Clark (KMB), Procter & Gamble (PG) Prove Consumer Staples' Strength

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Consumer-goods giants Kimberly-Clark  (KMB) and Procter & Gamble  (PG) both reported better-than-expected earnings on Friday, proving the non-durable staples business remains a rare industry of strength.

For its fourth quarter, Kimberly-Clark recorded net income of $1.44 a share, beating Thomson Reuters analysts' consensus by a nickel. Revenue of $5.3 billion, though flat year-on-year, beat consensus by $21 million. Organic sales, excluding currency exchange fluctuations and restructuring charges, rose 5% including an 11% jump in the international division.

In its personal care segment, which includes Huggies diapers, sales of $2.4 billion decreased 1%, while sales in the consumer tissue segment were flat from the year-ago period. Revenue growth was led by K-C Professional, its commercial- and industrial-designed products segment, which increased 3% to $800 million. Sales in its health care segment rose 2% to $400 million.

Over fiscal 2013, the Irving, Texas-based business recorded $21.2 billion in total sales, flat on the prior year. Organic sales increased 4% with higher sales volume of 3% and increased net selling prices of 1%. The company said negative foreign currency exchanges and lost sales in connection with European strategic changes reduced sales by around 2%. Revenue beat analyst consensus by $56 million.

Full-year net income of $5.77 a share came in 10% higher than the year earlier and above the $5.65-$5.75 guidance range previously issued.

The company also said it is pursuing a tax-free spinoff of its health care business to create a standalone publicly traded firm with around $1.6 billion in annual net sales. Management expects to seek approval from its board in the second quarter of 2014, with completion of the breakup expected by the end of the third quarter.

In 2014, the Kleenex maker said it expects organic sales growth between 3% and 5% with volumes up 2% to 3%. Adjusted earnings are forecast to increase between 4% and 7% and to fall in the range of $6 to $6.20 a share.

Kimberly-Clark said it expects to increase its dividend by 2% to 4% effective in April. This will represent Kimberly-Clark's 42nd consecutive annual dividend increase. Share repurchases for 2014 are expected to total $1.3 to $1.5 billion.

"In 2014, we will pursue targeted growth initiatives, launch innovations and support our growth opportunities with increased advertising and research spending. We expect to achieve a healthy level of cost savings, which should help fund brand investments and improve margins. We will also focus on cash generation and allocate capital in shareholder-friendly ways. And while we expect significant currency headwinds and higher commodity costs this year, we plan to deliver solid bottom-line growth. We remain optimistic about our prospects to drive profitable growth and generate attractive returns to shareholders," said CEO Thomas J. Falk in a statement.

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