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Colgate Brushes Past Estimates

Shares rise as sales and earnings top Wall Street's expectations.
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Shares of

Colgate-Palmolive

(CL) - Get Colgate-Palmolive Company Report

got a boost Wednesday after the consumer products giant posted third-quarter results that beat expectations

The company earned $344.1 million, or 63 cents a share, down from $347.2 million, or 63 cents a share, a year earlier, as results were weighed down by restructuring charges and stock options expensing.

Excluding restructuring charges and options costs, earnings were $421.5 million, or 77 cents a share, up from the year-ago $369.7 million, or 67 cents a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 72 cents a share. That forecast included 4 cents a share in stock options costs.

The company, whose products include Colgate toothpaste and Irish Spring soap, said sales rose to $3.14 billion from $2.91 billion. Analysts, on average, predicted sales of $3.08 billion.

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Colgate said its results were helped by a 140-basis-point improvement in gross profit margins, its largest margin increase in more than four years. The company also had a record level of advertising spending.

"I'm delighted that our brand investment spending continues to pay off," said President and Chief Operating Officer Ian Cook in a statement. "Toothpaste market shares are at a record high here in the U.S. and continue to strengthen in other key countries around the world including Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia and India. Colgate's share of the manual toothbrush market worldwide also increased during the quarter to another record high."

Colgate, citing ACNielen data, said its U.S. toothpaste market share reached 37.4% year to date, up 40 basis points from a year ago and 3 points ahead of its nearest competitor,

Procter & Gamble

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.

The company forecast double-digit EPS growth for 2006 and 2007, excluding charges.

Shares of Colgate recently were up $1.44, or 2.4%, to $61.91.