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Clorox (CLX) - Get Free Report , the U.S. household goods company, earned $1.59 a share in its fiscal first quarter, beating analysts' expectations of $1.54 but falling from year-earlier profit of $1.62 a share.

Sales in the quarter were $1.51 billion, which matched Wall Street estimates. A year earlier, Clorox tallied sales of $1.56 billion.

"First-quarter results were generally in line with our expectations. While sales were down, we're pleased that we were able to grow volume and gross margin in three of four segments as we work through challenges in our Bags and Wraps and Charcoal businesses," said Clorox Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer. "Importantly, we remain on track to deliver our fiscal-year outlook.

"I'm confident our new Ignite Strategy will provide the momentum necessary to deliver long-term shareholder value, especially through its focus on expanding our robust innovation and cost savings initiatives," Dorer added.

Gross margin in the first quarter rose to 44% from 43.4% a year earlier, driven by cost savings and price increases, offset by higher trade promotion spending and higher manufacturing and logistics costs.

Clorox, in a press release Thursday, affirmed its 2020 per-share earnings outlook of $6.05 to $6.25 a share, and said it continues to expect "that sales will be down from the low single digits to up 1%, reflecting about 2 points of foreign currency headwinds."

Clorox said its organic sales outlook remains unchanged, with a range of 1% to 3% sales growth. Gross margin, Clorox said, "is still expected to be down slightly."

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