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Kimberly-Clark Rises After Earnings Beat Estimates

Kimberly-Clark's fourth-quarter earnings beat estimates. Its revenue climbed on pandemic-induced demand.

Shares of Kimberly-Clark  (KMB) - Get Kimberly-Clark Corporation Report were rising Monday after the parent of Scott and Cottonelle toilet paper and Kleenex tissues reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

The company also approved a 6.5% increase in the quarterly dividend to $1.14 a share and set a new $5 billion stock buyback program. 

Shares of the Dallas company at last check rose 3.2% to $136.46.

Kimberly-Clark posted earnings of $539 million, or $1.58 a share, a drop of 1% from $547 million, or $1.59 a share, in the year-ago period. The latest adjusted earnings were $1.69 a share.

Revenue rose 6% to $4.84 billion from $4.58 billion in the year-ago period. 

A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates of GAAP earnings of $1.43 a share, or an adjusted $1.62, on revenue of $4.73 billion.

Personal-care sales rose 5% to $2.3 billion, consumer-tissue sales increased 14% to $1.7 billion and K-C Professional sales fell 9% to about $700 million. 

The volume increase in the sales of consumer tissue was driven by demand related to the outbreak of covid-19 and the work -rom-home environment, the company said.

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"In 2020, we grew organic sales 6%, with healthy underlying performance and increased demand because of covid-19," Chairman and Chief Executive Mike Hsu said in a statement.

"We also significantly increased brand investments and improved our market share positions. In addition, we achieved $575 million of cost savings and returned $2.15 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. 

"Finally, we grew adjusted earnings per share 12%, well above our medium-term objective." 

For the full year, net sales for the consumer goods firm increased 4% to $19.1 billion.

For 2021, the company, which also sells diaper brand Huggies, expects adjusted earnings per share of $7.75 to $8 and revenue to rise between 4% to 6%.

"We expect to further improve our market positions by building on our current momentum and leveraging our enhanced commercial capabilities. At the same time, we will continue to operate with financial discipline," said Hsu.

"We expect more challenging category conditions and higher commodity costs in 2021. That said, we remain very optimistic about our strategies to deliver balanced and sustainable growth over time and create long-term shareholder value."

The dividend is payable on April 5 to holders of record on March 5. 

The buyback supplements the current $5 billion program, which Kimberly-Clark expects to complete this year.