Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 11:00 am ET


Bina H. Thompson - Vice President of Investor Relations

Ian M. Cook - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President


Javier Escalante - Morgan Stanley

Caroline S. Levy - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Christopher Ferrara - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Joe Lachky - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

William B. Chappell - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division

Dara W. Mohsenian - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Lauren R. Lieberman - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Jason Gere - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Ali Dibadj - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

William Schmitz - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Wendy Nicholson - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Alice Beebe Longley - Buckingham Research Group, Inc.

Jon Andersen - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Joseph Altobello - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division



Good day, everyone, welcome to today's Colgate-Palmolive Co. Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded and is also being simulcast live at [Operator Instructions] At this time, for opening remarks, I would like to turn the call over to the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, Ms. Bina Thompson. Please go ahead.

Bina H. Thompson

Thank you, and good morning, everybody, and welcome to our Third Quarter Earnings Release Conference Call. With me this morning are Ian Cook, Chairman, President and CEO; Dennis Hickey, CFO; Victoria Dolan, Corporate Controller; and Elaine Paik, Treasurer.

This conference call will include forward-looking statements. And these statements are made on the basis of our views and assumptions as of this time and are not guarantees of future performance. Actual events or results may differ materially from these statements. For information about certain factors that could cause such differences, investors should consult our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available on our website, including the information set forth under the captions Risk Factors and Cautionary Statements on Forward-looking Statements.

We will discuss organic sales growth, excluding foreign exchange, acquisitions and divestitures. We will also discuss growth profit margin, operating profit, net income and earnings per share, excluding the impact of the onetime items described in the press release. A full reconciliation with the corresponding GAAP measures is included in the Press Release and is posted on the Investor Relations section of our website at

Now as Ian said in his morning's press release, we are indeed very pleased with our strong topline performance this quarter. As you've seen, it's been accelerating consistently throughout the year. Volume is going nicely and the pricing we had said we will begin to implement is contributing to sales as well. Market shares are increasing in much of our business. Globally, our shares are up in toothpaste, manual toothbrushes, mouthwash, bar soaps, body wash, household cleaners and fabric conditioner. Category growth rates continue to be robust in the developing market and has stopped their decline in developed markets. The even sale split within the fast-growing emerging markets and the more mature markets provides a good balance for our business.

As you saw, our gross margin decreased and was down more than we had projected when we spoke to you last quarter and this was due to 2 factors: Number 1, as we told you we would, we were able to realize price increases, although due to the competitive activity there were not as strong as we had forecast. And secondly, at the same time, raw material cost increases were greater than we had forecast coming into the quarter. While commodity prices in the market have come off their highs, there is a lag between market movement and the time when they flow through our income statement.

On the other hand, we've seen very good progress in reducing our overhead expenses. This has been a renewed focus for us over the last year and is beginning to pay off. Encouragingly, with a gain from the sale of our Laundry Detergent business in Colombia beginning this quarter, we have implemented and are continuing to implement a number of business realignments and other cost savings initiatives around the world which should generate even further savings as we head into next year. We expect this to continue to provide the funds to increase advertising behind our exciting new product launches as well as our base business. And our balance sheet remains strong. Return on capital increased to 36.8% and as referenced in the press release, our working capital declined as percent of sales.

So let's turn to the divisions starting with North America. As we have told you, much of the new product activity here in the U.S. is happening in the second half of this year. We're very encouraged by the success of all these launches across categories which is reflected in the good volume performance in the quarter. In addition, we grew organic sales for the first time in four quarters.

First and foremost is our launch a Colgate Optic White toothpaste and toothbrush which have met with great success. As you know, Colgate Optic White toothpaste is a unique formula which provides whiter teeth in just one week. The companion toothbrush has special whitening cups and polishing bristles. Our year-to-date toothpaste share referenced in the press release is at 35.8%, which is the market-leading position. And our share for the month of September climbed to 38%. In September, both the toothpaste and toothbrush were the number one selling SKUs in their respective Oral Care categories. We also launched Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste with a companion toothbrush and they have met with success as well.

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