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Procter & Gamble profits dip, sees 'strong' 2H 2014

Procter & Gamble on Friday reported a 15.5 percent drop in quarterly earnings on essentially flat sales, but shares rose after it forecast "strong" earnings growth in the next six months.

NEW YORK: Procter & Gamble on Friday reported a 15.5 percent drop in quarterly earnings on essentially flat sales, but shares rose after it forecast "strong" earnings growth in the next six months.

Net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2014 at the consumer products giant came in at $3.4 billion on $22.28 billion in revenue, down from $4.1 billion on $22.18 billion in revenue in the year-ago period.

The October-December results equated to earnings per share of $1.21 excluding one-time items, a penny above analyst expectations. Revenue fell just shy of analyst projections of $22.34 billion.

P&G noted the decline in net income in the second quarter followed gains in the year-ago period bolstered by the sale of its Italy bleach business and its purchase of the remaining part of its baby care and feminine care joint venture in Spain and Portugal.

The second quarter was also negatively impacted by changes in foreign currency levels, said the company, whose global portfolio of brands include Ariel and Tide detergents, Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste and Duracell batteries.

P&G said it notched "organic" sales growth of three percent in the quarter, with volume increases in all five of its segments and higher organic sales in four of five divisions.

"Organic" sales exclude foreign exchange effects and the impact of acquisitions and divestitures.

P&G chief executive A.G. Lafley confirmed that the company was on track to reach its 2014 objectives of three to four percent organic sales growth, and five to seven percent earnings per share growth.

"We expect strong earnings growth in the second half of the year, driven by solid top-line growth, moderating headwinds from foreign exchange, and productivity savings that build throughout the year," Lafley said.

P&G chief financial officer Jon Moeller said the company hopes to boost performance in its Beauty segment with a recent upgrade to its Pantene shampoo and a new marketing campaign around the product. Beauty had flat organic sales in the latest quarter and was the only segment that had no growth.

Sales in the Grooming segment were hit in the most recent quarter by the popular "Movember" campaign, in which some male consumers took a break from facial shaving in November to highlight prostate cancer, Moeller said.

In general, facial shaving by men has been in decline, but the effect has been offset by a rise in body shaving, Moeller said in a conference call with reporters.

A Dow component, P&G was the biggest gainer in the 30-stock index, rising 3.5 percent to $81.00 in mid-morning trade.

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