Procter & Gamble Posts Higher Quarterly Profit

Earns Proctor and Gamble (FILE - This Aug. 2, 2010, file photo, shows the Procter & Gamble Co. headquarters building in Cinc
Al Behrman/AP
By Jessica Wohl

Procter & Gamble is chugging along with its turnaround, posting a quarterly profit that met Wall Street's expectations and holding to its annual forecasts as the world's largest household products maker gets a lift from cost cuts and a lower tax rate.

Shares of P&G (PG) slipped 0.5 percent to $80.20 in premarket trading Friday.

The maker of Pampers diapers and Tide detergent is trying to reinvigorate itself under chief executive A.G. Lafley, who returned in late May to replace Bob McDonald.

Lafley, who isn't speaking on the company's conference call Friday, has previously said the current fiscal 2014 would be a "transition" year, after the "stepping stone" year that ended in June. He has already split P&G into four businesses, hoping the new structure will boost efficiency.

P&G said it still expected 5 percent to 7 percent growth in earnings per share this fiscal year, excluding restructuring charges. The company abandoned quarterly forecasts earlier this year.

It still expects organic sales, which strip out the impact of currency changes, acquisitions and divestitures, to rise 3 percent to 4 percent this fiscal year.

Shampoo Showdown

P&G held or increased market share in businesses that represent about two-thirds of its sales during the quarter, Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said. Still, the company has to execute better, more consistently and more reliably, he added.

P&G competes against a variety of companies, including Unilever (UN). On Thursday, Unilever's results suggested that its North American market share in the high-margin personal care business suffered because of promotions that P&G ran on its hair care products such as Pantene shampoo.

However, Moeller refuted such assertions, saying that P&G's hair care product promotions were down from a year earlier. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The company's market share in the category was flat.

"We see a different reality," Moeller told reporters. "Promotion is important, and we will be competitive in our promotional activities, but it is not an area where we seek to lead."

In North America overall, P&G's share of the volume of goods that were sold on promotions was down 7 percent from a year earlier, Moeller said.

P&G said it had earned $3.03 billion, or $1.04 a share, in the first quarter ended on Sept. 30, up from $2.81 billion, or 96 cents a share, a year earlier.

Core earnings per share, which exclude restructuring charges, fell 1 percent to $1.05 and met analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 2.2 percent to $21.21 billion, topping Wall Street forecast of $21.04 billion.

Organic sales rose 4 percent. Such sales were up in every category except health care, where they were flat, due in part to a pet food recall.

The beauty business was a disappointment, with organic sales growth of just 1 percent, analysts said. P&G blamed the sluggish growth on factors such as a decrease in skin care product sales.

JPMorgan (JPM) analyst John Faucher said he had expected 3 percent organic sales growth in the beauty division.

Our Favorite Hungry Thieves
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Procter & Gamble Posts Higher Quarterly Profit
It seems that in one corner of Germany, it just isn't safe to transport food in trucks anymore. In the small town of Bad Hersfeld, northeast of Frankfurt, thieves are running off with literally truckloads of goods. In August, 34,000 cans of Red Bull were robbed off a truck; in March, 30,000 euros ($40,000) worth of coffee; and this month, five tons of Nutella. That's 16,000 euros ($20,800) worth of chocolaty hazelnut goodness. It seems unlikely that a sweet tooth was the motive for that latest crime, but rather the odds of being able to move the spread easily and profitably on the black market. A large jar of Nutella can cost upwards of $6.50, even at discount retailers like Walmart (WMT).

An Orlando, Fla., man should have studied the work of his German counterparts better before he decided to hijack a trailer full of Campbell's soup this month. Investigators are unsure of the motives behind the crime -- Black market sales? A terrible cold? --  but after a 30-mile chase that involved a helicopter and K-9 law-enforcement unit, he was caught and the $75,000 worth of canned soup was safely retrieved.

"The court has seen many things stolen ... This is the first time the court's ever seen $75,000 worth of soup stolen," Broward County Judge Jay Hurley told the 51-year-old at his arraignment.

Canadians are known for their love of maple syrup, and Quebec has been called the "Saudi Arabia of syrup." So perhaps it's only natural that someone might view it as a liquid asset. Last August, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers discovered something strange in their stockpile. Someone had snuck off with $30 million worth of pure syrup, leaving behind barrels filled instead with water.  There was panic. If that much syrup was released onto the black market, prices would be driven down and producers would suffer. Fortunately for breakfasts everywhere, in December, Canadian authorities raided a facility in New Brunswick and recovered most of the stolen goods.

In February, as a Krispy Kreme driver was making a delivery to a gas station convenience store in Dacula, Ga., a man police later identified as James Freddy Major jumped into the truck and took off, giving those on the road that night the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a convoy of police cars in hot pursuit of a doughnut truck.

After running a couple of lights, Major rammed into a mailbox, then attempted to escape on foot. He was tackled by a police dog and eventually arrested. It was, according to media reports, his 11th arrest in Gwinnett County since 1999.

A man from Illinois used fake paperwork to trick a Wisconsin cheese producer into loading  $200,000 worth of Muenster on to his truck. He was arrested in New Jersey and the cheese recovered. However, the company, K&K Cheese, doesn't want its 42,000 pounds of cheese back because of concerns that it may have been tampered with. Instead, they will donate it to charity, if it gets cleared by the New Jersey health inspectors.

Maybe this thief didn't get the memo that the cheese bandit had been caught: He ran off with $100,000 worth of hamburger patties this month. The aspiring hamburglar struck at the shipping yard in New Jersey, rolling of with a shipment of burgers originally destined for The Netherlands. A spokesperson for the Linden Police Department said that food crimes like these occur frequently, and if the loot is not recovered within 48 hours, it has probably already made its way onto the black market.

Not every grocery-related theft involves edible items. Supermarkets, discounters and other retailers have all been victims of unusual crime trend recently: People stealing Tide laundry detergent. And it's no small matter: Some stores across the country are losing $10,000 to $15,000 worth of detergent a month.

After a series of such thefts were reported to them, police in Maryland started to get suspicious; it seemed like a more complicated matter than just random petty thefts. Turns out, all those shoplifters weren't just eager to wash their clothes; they were trading the Tide for drugs. Laundry detergent has become a popular item to barter for illegal drugs or sell to black market operations, because it's impossible to track, doesn't spoil, and everyone needs it. Tide, which is the nation's most popular detergent brand, is also significantly more expensive than most other detergents. Like the maple syrup we mentioned before, Tide, too, has earned the nickname “liquid gold" for its value as street currency.

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