How Reckitt Benckiser Has Fared During 2012

LONDON -- Reckitt Benckiser (ISE: RB.L) has gained 18.7% to 3,775 pence so far in 2012, making this share one of the year's stronger performers in the FTSE 100. During the same time, the blue chip index has gained about 4%.

Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser is marching ahead under the watchful eye of new CEO Rakesh Kapoor, who's tasked with successfully growing the firm's emerging markets presence.

Investors have high hopes for Kapoor and Reckitt after a solid finish to 2011 -- which saw the company post a 12% increase in revenue to 9,490 million pounds and 11% jump in earnings per share.

In May, Reckitt reported a 3% increase in revenue (to 2,360 million pounds) in its first quarter, with like-for-like growth of 4% (excluding Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, a bit of a misfit division among Reckitt's consumer goods offerings). Within the Pharma division, Reckitt reported a 7% increase in revenue.

In July, as Reckitt hit the half-year mark, it reported a slight uptick in revenue (up 1% to 2,310 million pounds) and a 2% increase in total operating profits. Earnings per share were up to 105.8 pence. Reckitt declared an interim dividend of 56 pence, an increase of 2% of the prior year.

In September, the company announced that CFO Liz Doherty would step down and be replaced by Adrian Hennah, who was plucked from Smith & Nephew.

Reckitt's business wasn't fazed, and just last month it reported a strong third quarter. The company said like-for-like revenue was up 5% to 2,420 million pounds in Q3, driven by strong performance in emerging markets and better trading in North America and Europe.

Commenting on these results, Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive officer, said:

Reckitt Benckiser's first quarter results were on track and in line with our ingoing expectations. High quality, volume led LFL growth of 4% was driven by continued excellent performance in Emerging Market Areas. These results give us the confidence to reiterate our FY 2012 target of like-for-like net revenue growth of 200bp above our market growth rate of 1-2%.

This performance was better than analysts were expecting, after Reckitt saw a slowdown in Southern Europe earlier this year.

Although Reckitt announced it is on target for 2012, investors are no doubt keeping an eye on Kapoor's ability to grow the company's presence in emerging markets and secure the projected 3.4% dividend yield that income investors are fond of.

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