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Jul 31, 2009
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Colgate sales disappoint, shares skid but profit beats forecast

By
Reuters
Published
Jul 31, 2009

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Colgate-Palmolive Co (CL.N) said second-quarter revenue declined more than expected, as weakness in its upscale Hill's pet food division pressured results, sending shares down more than 5 percent.

Colgate Palmolive

Still, its quarterly profit topped estimates as cost cuts and a 7.5 percent increase in prices helped offset the revenue drop and the stronger U.S. dollar.

"The stock has had a great run, and we think it will take a bit of a breather today," JP Morgan analyst John Faucher said in a note to clients. Colgate shares fell as low as $71.90, wiping out gains from the past two weeks.

The maker of toothpaste, dish soap and other household goods also said on Thursday 30 July it was comfortable with analysts' profit expectations for the current third quarter and full year.

Colgate sales and profits have held up relatively well in recent months as consumers restocked their pantries with basics.

The company has also benefited from its narrower focus. Rivals such as Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) are facing pressure from lower-priced competitors in areas like paper products and diapers, where Colgate does not compete.

But its Hill's unit, including its Science Diet line of dog and cat food, came under pressure. Sales fell 3 percent and volume dropped 11.5 percent.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Connie Maneaty had forecast a 4 percent volume increase at Hill's.

In last year's second quarter, Hill's sales jumped 19.5 percent, aided by an 8 percent price increase, and volume rose 6 percent.

SALES DOWN, PROFIT UP

Total second-quarter sales fell 5.5 percent to $3.75 billion, weighed down by the stronger U.S. dollar, which cuts into the value of international revenue. Analysts, on average, expected $3.78 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

The volume of goods sold fell 1.5 percent. JP Morgan's Faucher anticipated that volume would be flat.

Profit climbed to $561.6 million, or $1.07 per share, from $493.8 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected $1.05 per share.

Sales in North America, which account for one-fifth of the total, rose 2.5 percent. Volume increased at the same rate. Sales in Latin America, Colgate's largest market, fell 1.5 percent, pressured by currencies. Volume rose 2 percent.

Gross profit margin increased to 58.8 percent of sales from 56.5 percent, including restructuring charges in the year-earlier period.

Colgate spent more on advertising than in the first quarter, but those costs fell as a percentage of sales from a year earlier, as media rates declined and it reduced spending in line with competition.

Chief Executive Ian Cook said he was comfortable with Wall Street profit expectations for the third quarter and the year. Analysts, on average, expect Colgate to earn $1.09 per share this quarter and $4.25 for this year.

The price increases as well as easing raw material costs and expense cutting should help the company achieve gross profit margin growth at or above the high end of its targeted range of 75 to 125 basis points this year, Cook said.

Colgate stock fell 3.6 percent, or $2.76, to $73.09.

At Wednesday (29 July)'s close, Colgate shares had climbed 10.7 percent this year, while Procter & Gamble, which is due to report quarterly results on August 5, had fallen 9.2 percent.

Shares of P&G climbed 1.4 percent to $56.93 on Thursday 30 July.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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