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Cost cuts, higher prices help Colgate-Palmolive 4Q

NEW YORK (AP) -- Colgate-Palmolive Co. said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income rose 1 percent on higher prices and cost cuts.

Consumer product makers have been raising prices and trimming costs to balance high costs for raw materials. Colgate is cutting 6 percent of its staff by 2016 as part of a broader cost-cutting program.

The maker of Colgate toothpaste and Palmolive dish soap said that for the three months ended Dec. 31, net income came to $598 million, or $1.26 per share, from $590 million, or $1.21 per share the year before.

Excluding costs related to the restructuring program, profit totaled $1.41 per share. Analysts expected $1.40 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $4.29 billion from $4.17 billion last year. Analysts expected $4.31 billion.

Shares dropped $3.82, or 3.5 percent, to $107.03 in premarket trading Thursday.

Global unit volume grew 1.5 percent, while prices rose 2.5 percent.

In North America, which accounts for 18 percent of Colgate's sales, revenue rose 4 percent on higher volume and higher selling prices. Top products include Colgate Optic White mouthwash, Softsoap brand Pampered Hands Coconut Lime Parfait foaming hand soap and Softsoap brand Citrus Splash and Berry Fusion body wash.

Overseas, the stronger dollar weighed on sales. An increasing dollar weighs on foreign income when it's translated back into the dollar.

Revenue in Latin America, Colgate's largest region with 29 percent of its sales, rose 1.5 percent. Revenue was flat in the Europe and South Pacific region and rose 9 percent in Colgate's Asia and Africa division.

For the year, net income rose to $2.47 billion, or $5.15 per share, from $2.43 billion, or $4.94 per share, in 2011. Revenue rose 2 percent to $17.09 billion from $16.73 billion.

CEO Ian Cook said he expects the company's earnings per share will grow by a double-digit percentage rate, excluding charges and the impact of currency changes, in 2013.