Colgate-Palmolive said diluted earnings for the three months ending in March came in at 67 cents per share, down 9.5% from the same period last year and one penny ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group sales, Colgate said, were also lower from last year at $3.884 billion but again came in modestly ahead of analysts' estimates of $3.86 billion. Profit margins, however, narrowed 30 basis points to 59.1%.
Colgate also confirmed its forecast of flat to a low single-digit increase in net sales for 2019, as well as organic revenue growth of between 2% and 4%. The consumer brands group also said full-year earnings will fall by a low single-digit percentage, with analysts looking for a 2019 tally of $2.83 per share, according to Refinitv.
"We are pleased with the improvement in organic sales growth this quarter and that the growth was broad based, with emerging markets and developed markets each growing 3.0%," said CEO Noel Wallace. "We believe our plans to accelerate growth are beginning to pay off, as the stronger organic sales growth we delivered in the quarter had a better balance between pricing and volume growth than we saw in the fourth quarter of 2018. This growth was led by our toothpaste and Hill's businesses."
Colgate-Palmolive shares were marked 1.91% higher at the start of trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at 69.98 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 18.1% .
North American sales, which represent more than a fifth of total group revenues, rose 3%, Colgate said, offsetting a 4.5% decrease in Latin America and a 7% slump in Europe.