Prices hikes help Clorox post small 3Q profit rise

Price increases give narrow lift to Clorox in 3rd qtr, as bad weather hinders charcoal sales

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Clorox said Wednesday that its fiscal third-quarter net income climbed slightly as price hikes helped amid bad weather conditions that hindered sales of its Kingsford brand charcoal.

The consumer products company's performance missed Wall Street estimates. It also lowered the high end of its full-year revenue forecast, due to the lower charcoal sales and other issues.

Shares slipped in morning trading.

Clorox earned $133 million, or $1 per share, for the three months ended March 31. That compares with $132 million, or $1.01 per share, in the first three months of 2012.

Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of $1.05 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue edged up 1 percent to $1.41 billion from $1.4 billion. Wall Street expected $1.43 billion in revenue.

Charcoal sales fell by more than 20 percent in March because of unusually cold weather across most of the U.S. Elsewhere in the household segment, cat litter shipments fell as prior price increases continued to hurt volume. Prices hikes benefited the unit — which also includes Glad bags, wraps and containers — but were somewhat offset by unfavorable mix and increased promotional spending.

In the lifestyle division, which includes Hidden Valley Ranch brand dressings and sauces, Brita water filtration and Burt's Bees natural personal care, sales rose 2 percent, mostly because of price hikes.

Overseas sales climbed 2 percent primarily on price increases and lower promotional spending. This was somewhat offset by unfavorable currency exchange rates.

Clorox Co. now expects fiscal 2013 revenue will rise 3 percent to 4 percent, but believes its results will likely be toward the lower end of the range. Its prior guidance was for 3 percent to 5 percent growth. Based on 2012's $5.47 billion in sales, the revised guidance implies revenue of about $5.64 billion to $5.69 billion.

The Oakland, Calif. company still anticipates earnings in a range of $4.25 to $4.35 per share.

Analysts predict full-year earnings of $4.34 per share on revenue of $5.69 billion.

For fiscal 2014, Clorox foresees earnings between $4.55 and $4.70 per share. Revenue is expected to climb 2 percent to 4 percent.

Wall Street expects earnings of $4.69 per share.

Clorox's stock shed 51 cents to $85.74 in morning trading. The shares have traded between $66.72 and $90.10 in the past 52 weeks.

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