Cleaning Up With Consumer Goods Makers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- They're off and running! Friday was an awesome day for the "Four Horsemen of Consumer Goods" starting with Kimberly-Clark's ( KMB) blowout first-quarter earnings report.

KMB shares hit an all-time high after the company reported a 13% increase in first-quarter earnings. KMB did a good job of cutting costs and experienced strong sales of high-margin products like Kleenex tissue and everybody's favorite daily-need product, toilet paper.

The company's adjusted earnings per share (EPS) came in at $1.48, which was an all-time record and up 19% year over year, bolstered by KMB's strong cost savings strategy. KMB's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Buthman stressed during the conference call the company continues to allocate capital in shareholder-friendly ways through dividends and share repurchases.

Shares of KMB opened above $104 and traded as high as $106.16, which at that price level lowers the dividend yield-to-price to a still generous 3.05%. It correlates nicely with CEO Thomas Falk's statement that he sees organic sales growth for KMB continuing at a 3% to 5% rate for the rest of 2013.

Robert Abernathy, KMB's Group President of Europe, Global Nonwovens and Continuous Improvement and Sustainability, who appears to be the insider with the largest number of KMB shares (134,568 as of Feb. 21) had to be pleased. Based on KMB's closing share price on Thursday of $101.36 his shares would be worth over $538,000 more by the time KMB closed Friday at $106.10.

If you want to see all the details of this terrific earnings release and quarterly financial report look at the company's press release at its easy-to-navigate Web site. The "Executive Summary" is a sight to behold, the picture of a well-run company operating with shareholder's interests at heart.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Falk said, "We are off to an excellent start to the year. We achieved solid organic sales growth compared to a strong year-ago result, including benefits from targeted growth initiatives and product innovations. We improved adjusted gross margin by 140 basis points and adjusted operating profit margin by 200 basis points."

Falk also celebrated the fact that "we delivered all-time record adjusted earnings per share, reflecting continued momentum in K-C International, $85 million of cost savings from our ongoing FORCE program and above-plan volume growth in North American consumer tissue. Finally, we improved cash flow and returned $0.8 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases."

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