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P&G Income Rises 8%

The Procter & Gamble Co. plans to take a hard line against rising commodity and energy costs, with a spate of initiatives that includes raising prices, reformulating products and streamlining overhead.

AG Lafley

A.G. Lafley

Photo By WWD Staff

The Procter & Gamble Co. plans to take a hard line against rising commodity and energy costs, with a spate of initiatives that includes raising prices, reformulating products and streamlining overhead.

The company posted a third-quarter profit of 8 percent against the backdrop of a slowing economy.

Net earnings for the quarter ended March 31 were $2.7 billion, or 82 cents a diluted share, up from $2.5 billion, or 74 cents, in the prior year on sales that gained 9.5 percent to $20.5 billion from $18.7 billion.

Beauty sales industrywide have dampened and P&G's beauty segment posted net earnings that dipped 2 percent to $589 million on a sales increase of 9 percent to $4.7 billion and organic sales growth of 3 percent, as a result of slower market growth in prestige channels and higher commodity costs, said the company.

During an earnings call with analysts, chairman and chief executive officer A.G. Lafley said, "In the past, we have seen a slowdown in more discretionary [beauty] categories and channels," adding he was pleased that the firm's cosmetics business held up well, particularly Cover Girl, which gained share in the period.

He said a rash of promotions from some competitors — like "buy one, get one free" — has depressed category consumption somewhat, adding that kind of spending is not sustainable.

By category, volume was up midsingle digits in hair color behind the introduction of Nice 'n Easy Perfect 10 and in cosmetics with the launch of Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara fronted by Drew Barrymore. Retail hair care volume was up midsingle digits, driven by high-teens growth on Head & Shoulders and double-digit growth of Rejoice, offset by softness of the Pantene brand in North America. Prestige fragrance's organic sales outpaced industry sales and gained 9 percent, driven by launches from Hugo Boss, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
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