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Clean Quarter at Clorox

Earnings top Wall Street's forecast.

Household products giant


(CLX) - Get Clorox Company Report

eked out a 3% rise in fiscal first-quarter profits as sales climbed and margins improved.

The company said Wednesday that its earnings for the quarter ended Sept.30 rose to $112 million, or 73 cents a share, from $109 million, or 71 cents a share, a year earlier.

The earnings topped Thomson First Call's average analyst estimate of 71 cents a share and were at the high end of Clorox's August forecast of 67 cents to 73 cents.

Sales rose to $1.16 billion from $1.10 billion, though volume declined 1%. The company said volume was hurt by price increases that cut shipments of affected products, as well as a decline in shipments of Glad trash bags due to increased competition.

Wall Street expected sales of $1.15 billion.

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"Clorox delivered strong first-quarter results," said Chairman and CEO Don Knauss. "We drove sales growth in all business segments, increased gross margin and delivered earnings per diluted share at the top end of our outlook range."

Knauss, a former


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executive, was named the head of Clorox in late August.

Clorox offered a somewhat lukewarm forecast for the rest of the fiscal year. The company expects fiscal 2007 earnings at the lower end of its forecast of $3.20 to $3.30 a share due to higher costs related to an IT-services agreement. Wall Street expects earnings of $3.25 a share.

The company predicts fiscal second-quarter earnings at the lower end of its projected range of 48 cents to 54 cents because of increased marketing and advertising. Analysts, on average, anticipate earnings of 53 cents a share.

For the third quarter, Clorox projects earnings of 74 cents to 80 cents a share, below Wall Street's expectation of 82 cents. The company said it plans to increase prices on its Kingsford charcoal products during that quarter to recover higher commodity costs.