State and Nation Business

Procter & Gamble 2Q profit falls, tops estimates

CINCINNATI – Procter & Gamble’s second-quarter net income fell 16 percent as the world’s largest consumer products maker faced a tough comparison with year ago results, the stronger dollar and nearly flat sales globally.

But its adjusted earnings beat Wall Street expectations and the company reiterated its 2014 guidance. Its shares rose 3 percent in morning trading.

The Cincinnati-based company, whose products range from Tide detergent to Crest toothpaste and Gillette razors, is in the midst of a turnaround plan that includes focusing on its most profitable core businesses and cutting costs to save $10 billion by fiscal 2016.

Net income for the three months ended Dec. 31 fell to $3.43 billion, or $1.18 per share. That’s down from $4.06 billion, or $1.39 per share, last year. The results a year ago included a 21 cent per share gain related to acquiring the rest of its joint venture in Iberia.

Procter & Gamble, like other consumer products makers, has been trying to drive market share amid slow growth in developed markets. Emerging markets have been a growth driver, but there have been signs that the emerging market growth rate is slowing too. P&G said its sales results were in line with the overall consumer products market growth, from flat to up 1 percent in developed markets and up 7 to 8 percent in developing markets. Its market share growth overall was flat, and it held or grew market share in about 55 percent of its product and country categories.

Excluding restructuring costs in the latest period, earnings were $1.21 per share, a penny above expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue rose less than 1 percent to $22.28 billion, short of the $22.34 billion analysts expected.

The company reiterated that it expects 3 percent to 4 percent sales growth excluding acquisitions and currency exchange, and 5 percent to 7 percent earnings per share growth, excluding one-time items.

Oppenheimer analyst Joseph Altobello said that second quarter results were largely as expected, with “reasonably healthy” sales and volume growth boosted by cost cuts.

“While encouraged by these results, we believe the necessary improvements at P&G will take time and the stock seems to already reflect further momentum,” he said. He kept his “Market Perform” rating on the stock.

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