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Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report just dropped crisp and clean fourth-quarter results but they will not keep activist investor Nelson Peltz of Trian Fund Management LP at bay.

Before the market open on Thursday, July 27, the packaged goods company reported earnings of 85 cents a share, higher than Wall Street's estimates for earnings of 78 cents a share. P&G posted fourth-quarter revenue of $16.1 billion compared to the $16.02 billion analysts surveyed at Factset expected.

For the full 2017 fiscal year, the company reported earnings of $3.92 a share on revenue of $65.1 billion.

"Our standards are high. We are not satisfied with just being a little better than last year, we want to win," Chairman, President and CEO David Taylor said on a company earnings call with analysts.

Taylor said P&G "needs to stay focused" and would not let "anything derail" the work the company is doing to strengthen the value of its brands and improve topline growth.

  • Peltz Must Target Retail Investors In P&G Fight
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Shares of P&G rose by 0.83% to $90.04 in this afternoon's early trading.

The earnings release comes amid P&G's director-election battle launched earlier this month by Peltz, who is trying to secure a seat on the company's board. Peltz wants P&G to simplify its "overly complex" business, and that could include calling for it to be broken into smaller pieces.

Ali Dibadj, an analyst at Bernstein, told TheStreet's Ron Orol that P&G would benefit from spinning off its laundry, diapers, consumer tissue and possibly its feminine care business into one company. Then, one firm would handle its skin care and hair care business, and a third would run its oral care, Gillette and over-the-counter operation.

After the earnings release this morning, Trian, which owns $3.3 billion of the company's shares, said in a statement that P&G's total return to shareholders over the past 10 years is less than half that of its peers "and has been in the bottom quartile over most recent time frames."

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"Trian believes P&G needs to address the root causes of this consistent underperformance, including deteriorating market share across most of its categories and excessive cost and bureaucracy," Trian wrote.

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"As we close fiscal 2017 and enter fiscal 2018, we are where we need to be," Taylor said. "We will mark our progress by years not quarters. We are accelerating our efforts and it takes time to do it right."

For 2018, P&G expects to grow its organic sales by 2% to 3%. One analyst on the call asked why that growth expectation is so modest when the company promised to significantly boost its sales by next year, questioning if P&G has become a "structurally lower topline growth company."

"Market growth, if it stays at these levels, is going to be lower than it was over that period and that 2% to 3% effectively straddles what we expect market growth will be," P&G CFO Jon Moeller said in response. "I don't think that it's realistic to expect that we're going to grow orders of magnitude faster than the overall market."

Taylor said P&G is doing the "right thing" by focusing on long-term growth, not short-term profitability improvement. Still, the company will be investing in improving its digital capabilities, through the use of in-store artificial intelligence (AI) technology, for example, to grow profits.

A source close to the matter told TheStreet's Orol that Trian is currently reaching out to P&G's retail partners through social media to get them to support the election of Peltz.

"Nelson Peltz has been involved with numerous successful turnarounds of consumer brands and businesses, and adding him to the P&G Board will help P&G become best in class," Trian said in its statement.

Taylor, making a clear jab at Peltz, said P&G is "committed" to finding and keeping "the right people in the right places" through an increase in external hires.

P&G's products include Olay, Mr. Clean, Febreze, Rejoice, Cascade, Dawn and Bounty and Charmin. On the call, Taylor acknowledged that its hair-care products, which declined by low-single digits in the fourth quarter, continue to be pressured, but that P&G is "making progress" with its Herbal Essences brand. Pantene still needs work, he said.

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