Colgate-Palmolive Sales Fall; Profit Climbs

  CLColgate-Palmolive Co. (NYSE CL – $67.00) said its sales slipped 8.7% in the third quarter to $4 billion, hurt once again by significant currency-related headwinds, though profit climbed during the period, helped by cost cuts, increased prices and a more favorable tax rate. Overall, the company posted an adjusted profit equal to $0.72 per share, down from $0.76 in the third quarter of 2014, in line with consensus, but slightly shy on revenue estimated at $4.07 billion by Wall Street. For Colgate, roughly 80% of revenue is generated abroad and foreign-exchange volatility had a 13% drag on sales. Sales in Latin America fell 11%, while volumes fell 1%. The region accounts for 27% of the company’s sales. Colgate has raised prices in recent quarters in an attempt to offset the hit from foreign exchange and sales would have increased 5% on a currency-neutral basis. Over the latest quarter, Colgate, the maker of its namesake oral-care products, Mennen and Lady Speed Stick deodorant, Softsoap and Irish Spring and Science Diet pet food, said it raised prices 3.5%. The company also has been working to cut costs. Colgate brought down selling, general and administrative expenses to 33.7% of sales from 34.2% during the same period a year ago. Excluding special items, gross profit margin was 58.8% in the period, an increase of 20 basis points versus the year ago. The company’s operating earnings record, over the years, has been solid and consistent and its return on capital easily exceeds its household products peers. Defensive-minded investors will like the stock’s low Beta, its long annual dividend streak, the share-repurchase program, high profit margins, wide geographical footprint and strong positions in its respective markets. The shares also yield 2.2% at current quotations.

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