second-quarter earnings topped analysts' expectations as the consumer-products maker benefited from improved margins and moderate sales growth.
Clorox's earnings rose to $96 million, or 62 cents a share, from $83 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier. The results included a tax benefit of 3 cents a share related to the company's residual assets in a Brazilian subsidiary.
Excluding the benefit, earnings from continuing operations were 59 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of 50 cents a share.
The maker of Clorox bleach, Glad trash bags and Hidden Valley salad dressing said sales for the December quarter inched up to $1.10 billion from $1.06 billion, in line with Wall Street's expectation. Volume declined, which the company said was expected because of the continued impact of price increases early last year.
In addition, the company said shipments of Glad trash bags and some laundry and home-care products were hurt by aggressive competition.
The bottom line was boosted by a 100-basis-point improvement in gross margins, which Clorox attributed to cost cuts and price increases.
Clorox now anticipates 2007 earnings from continuing operations of $3.20 to $3.28 a share. In November, the company forecast fiscal 2007 earnings at the lower end of a range of $3.20 to $3.30 a share. Wall Street projects earnings of $3.21 a share.
Shares of Clorox recently were up $1.48, or 2.3%, to $66.90.