Beauty Boosts P&G Earnings

NEW YORK — Clairol supplied the highlights for Procter & Gamble Co.’s beauty care division, helping the consumer products giant beat out fourth-quarter estimates by 2 cents.<br><br>Exclusive of restructuring costs, the beauty care segment...

NEW YORK — Clairol supplied the highlights for Procter & Gamble Co.’s beauty care division, helping the consumer products giant beat out fourth-quarter estimates by 2 cents.

This story first appeared in the August 6, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Exclusive of restructuring costs, the beauty care segment saw net profits ascend 45 percent to $248 million, while earnings before income taxes jumped 51 percent to $363 million. Sales increased 22 percent to $2.14 billion during the quarter ended June 30. Unit volume swelled 32 percent. Lower prices for Clairol products, compared with others in the P&G stable, contributed to the disparity between unit and dollar volume.

Excepting acquisitions and divestitures, the division’s dollar and unit volume for the quarter were up 4 and 5 percent, respectively, on strength throughout the business.

Despite the strong financial performance, shares of the Cincinnati-based Dow Jones Industrial Average component retreated $2.40, or 2.7 percent, to close Monday at $87.44 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow took a 269.50 point, or 3.2 percent, hit, and the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s 500 suffered similar setbacks. However, the S&P Retail Index declined 1.4 percent to 259.30

Last November, in its largest acquisition ever, P&G snapped up Clairol for $4.95 billion. The deal propelled the firm into the realm of hair color and brought in about $1.6 billion in annual hair care sales.

Banc of America Securities analyst William Steele noted: “Clairol was about a breakeven business for P&G in its first year. I’m note sure whether it was a good move for them long term; we still need to see a contribution to profits.” He described beauty, though, as “vitally important” to P&G. “It’s a good margin business” and about 20 percent of sales, he observed.

Overall, quarterly profits at P&G of $910 million, or 64 cents a diluted share, compared with losses of $320 million, or 23 cents, a year ago. Sales for the three months climbed 6.1 percent to $10.17 billion from $9.58 billion a year ago.

Results for the most recent quarter included $175 million aftertax restructuring charge related to corporate streamlining, while the year-ago quarter saw aftertax restructuring charges of $1.16 billion.

Without these charges or goodwill amortization, net income jumped 21.8 percent to $1.09 billion, or 77 cents a diluted share, from $891 million, or 63 cents, a year ago. After accounting for extraordinary items, earnings per share came in 2 cents ahead of Wall Street’s estimates of 75 cents.

“Our results continue to be strong behind our strategies of improving consumer value, investing behind core brands and driving cost savings to the bottom line,” noted chairman and chief executive A.G. Lafley in a statement.

Steele added, “In general, they did a pretty good job in the June quarter,” but he said the firm was still only about halfway through a restructuring designed to generate cost savings. After taxes, those savings amounted to about $700 million during the full fiscal year, he said.

For the year, P&G’s profits shot up 48.9 percent to $4.35 billion, or $3.09 a diluted share, from $2.92 billion, or $2.07, a year ago. Sales rose 2.5 percent to $40.24 billion from year-ago turnover of $39.24 billion. Without charges, earnings accumulated a 9.6 percent gain, up to $5.06 billion from $4.62 billion a year ago.

During the current fiscal year, unit volume growth is expected to be modestly ahead of revenues, which are slated to expand 4 to 6 percent. Core earnings are expected to post a double-digit percentage increase.