Procter & Gamble Beats Estimates on Stronger Sales

Procter & Gamble ( PG) posted double-digit fourth-quarter earnings growth on stronger sales, driven by its health care and home product lines and continued benefits of the acquisition of Clairol.

The consumer products company earned $910 million, or 64 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $320 million, or 27 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding restructuring charges, the company earned $1.09 billion, or 77 cents a share, a 22% increase over last year's $991 million, or 63 cents a share.

Analysts polled by tracking firm Thomson Financial/First Call had been looking for 75 cents a share, excluding charges.

Core net sales, excluding discontinued business, were up 5% to $10.2 billion, while health care product sales were up 12% to $1.25 billion. Fabric and home care products also saw strong growth in the quarter, with unit volume up 6% and sales up 3% to $2.93 billion.

For the full year, sales were up 4% to $40.24 billion on a reported basis, while net income was $4.35 billion, or $3.09 a share. Excluding charges, the company earned $3.59 a share for the year, ahead of analyst estimates of $3.57.

Looking ahead, Procter & Gamble forecast first-quarter sales volume growth of 8% to 10%, with sales growth of 4% to 6% and earnings per share growth of 11% to 15%.

For the full year, the company expects volume growth to exceed sales growth, with sales increasing 4% to 6% and earnings per share seeing double-digit growth.

Shares of Procter & Gamble were up about 17 cents to $90.01 in early premarket action after closing at $89.84 Friday.

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