Gillette Razor Sharp

Gillette's ( G) first-quarter earnings shot up 43% from a year ago, as the company sold more high-margin razors and benefited from currency translation in overseas markets.

Gillette earned $376 million, or 37 cents a share, in the latest quarter compared with earnings of $263 million, or 25 cents a share, last year. Revenue jumped 13% to $2.24 billion, with 7 percentage points of that increase attributable to currency translation.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting earnings of 30 cents a share in the latest quarter on revenue of $2.09 billion a year ago. The company noted in its release that it benefited from a lower effective tax rate in the latest quarter, down 1 percentage point from a year ago to 29%.

Gillette's largest division, blades and razors, saw net sales jump 16% to $1.04 billion and profit from operations rise 26% to $417 million. The company cited strong sales of several new products and strength in all its geographies, particularly Russia and India. The company said its huge market advantage persisted, with global blade value share holding steady at 72.8%. Global razor volume rose 5% from a year ago.

Net sales in its Duracell battery unit rose 8% to $414 million, with 6 percentage points of the run-up attributable to currency translation. Profit from operations roughly doubled from a year ago to $74 million.

"While Duracell maintained dollar share for the quarter, the dynamics of the category are still unstable," Gillette said in a statement. "We will continue our focus on building the equity of our premium Duracell brand. However, we also will continue to adjust our efforts to maintain our competitive position. Time will tell if these tactical adjustments will be enough to achieve our objectives."

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