Kimberly-Clark's 3rd-qtr profit tops view, shares rise

Reuters

* Q3 adjusted profit $1.44/share vs Wall St view $1.40/share

* Raises low end of 2013 adjusted profit forecast

* Shares rise 3 percent

By Jessica Wohl

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Kimberly-Clark Corp, maker ofKleenex tissues, posted a bigger-than-anticipated rise inquarterly profit on Tuesday on continued growth overseas aswell as global cost cutting.

While total sales rose a modest 0.3 percent, when strippingout the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and foreignexchange fluctuations, sales increased 5 percent.

That rise in so-called organic sales surpassed analysts'expectations for an increase of just under 3 percent, with muchof the growth driven by the developing markets, said EdwardJones analyst Jack Russo, who has a "hold" rating on the stock.

Kimberly-Clark kicked off the earnings season for U.S.household products makers with strength in emerging markets andmanageable foreign exchange and commodities, which may "beperceived as a positive across" the sector, said Wells Fargoanalyst Chris Ferrara.

Shares of Kimberly-Clark rose 3 percent to $101.84. Sharesof other companies still due to report their results, such asthe larger Procter & Gamble Co, showed more modest gains.

HUGGIES PRICE INCREASE COMING

Third-quarter sales and operating profit declined inpersonal care, the company's biggest unit with products such asHuggies diapers and Depend and Poise incontinence products. Muchof the sales decline in that business stemmed fromKimberly-Clark's decision to exit much of its European business.

Kimberly-Clark plans to reduce the number of Huggies diapersin most packages in North America by about 7 percent starting inthe first quarter of 2014 without changing the price, a movethat will lead customers to pay more per diaper. The changecomes as Kimberly-Clark tries to get its Huggies package sizesmore in line with competitors, Chief Executive Officer ThomasFalk said on a conference call.

Sales in the North American personal-care division wereflat, as volume increased but prices fell 1 percent due largelyto promotional activity in the diaper category, where Huggiescompetes against P&G's Pampers and other brands.

Kimberly-Clark earned $546 million, or $1.42 per share, inthe third quarter, up from $517 million, or $1.30, a yearearlier.

Kimberly-Clark earned $1.44 per share on an adjusted basis,which excludes restructuring costs, up from $1.34 a year earlierand 4 cents above analysts' forecast of $1.40, according toThomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total sales increased 0.3 percent to $5.26 billion andsurpassed analysts' forecast of $5.23 billion. The volume ofgoods sold rose 3 percent and prices were up 1 percent.

Kimberly-Clark raised the low end of its 2013 adjustedearnings-per-share forecast by 5 cents. It now anticipatesearning $5.65 to $5.75 per share this year. It still expectsorganic sales to rise from 3 percent to 5 percent.

While the company cut $70 million in costs, it also had todeal with $55 million in additional costs for raw materials andtransportation versus the same period a year earlier.

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