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Can Cost and Tariff Woes Mar Clorox's (CLX) Earnings in Q4?

Zacks Equity Research

The Clorox Company CLX is slated to report fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 results on Aug 1.

A glimpse of the company’s earnings performance shows that it reported first earnings miss in the last reported quarter, after nine straight quarters of beat. Consequently, its average trailing four-quarter beat was 2.7%. However, the company lagged sales estimates in three of the last four quarters.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in the fiscal fourth quarter is pegged at $1.85, suggesting 11.5% growth from the prior-year quarter figure. Earnings estimates have remained unchanged in the past 30 days.

The Clorox Company Price and EPS Surprise


The Clorox Company Price and EPS Surprise

The Clorox Company price-eps-surprise | The Clorox Company Quote

Let’s See How Things Are Shaping Prior to 4Q19

Clorox is progressing well with its growth initiatives — including 2020 Strategy, Go Lean Strategy, enhancement of the e-commerce business and disciplined capital allocation. The company’s 2020 Strategy, aimed at improving product categories and enhancing overall market share, has been contributing to its quarterly results. Further, the Go Lean Strategy is likely to boost margins through operational efficiencies. The company’s commitment toward investing in product and brand differentiation to safeguard value proposition places it for growth.

Additionally, Clorox’s focus on investments in demand building through digital marketing, e-commerce and product innovation pipeline is encouraging. As part of these efforts, it has improved digital capabilities, leading to robust e-commerce growth, which is now a significant revenue contributor.

However, ongoing impacts of elevated commodity costs and adverse currency rates as well as increased manufacturing and logistics expenses hurt the company’s top and bottom-line results in the last reported quarter. Further, it narrowed sales view for fiscal 2019, anticipating a milder cold and flu season as well as increased promotional activity in the Wipes category. Apart from this, the company’s lowered sales view relates to expectations of softer sales in the Bags and Wraps business, owing to widened price gaps as a result of price increase and higher competitive promotions.

The company now projects sales growth of 2-3% in fiscal 2019 compared with previously mentioned 2-4%. Notably, the consensus mark for quarterly revenues stands at $1.69 billion, flat compared with the year-ago quarter’s reported number.

Additionally, the company expects tariffs to weigh on earnings in fiscal 2019. Notably, earnings projections include a negative impact of nearly 5-7 cents from tariffs, which are hurting certain business segments. Consequently, management anticipates earnings per share of $6.25-$6.35 from continuing operations compared with $6.20-$6.40 stated previously.

Not to forget, Clorox will continue to witness pressures from higher commodity costs, and manufacturing and logistics expenses, which will likely weigh on its gross margin in the fourth quarter and fiscal 2019. As a result, the company expects gross margin to remain flat in fiscal 2019. It expects gains from higher prices and cost-savings efforts to be offset by increased costs and adverse foreign currency exchange rates. Further, it expects advertising and sales promotion spending to be roughly 10% of sales. Selling and administrative expenses are projected to be nearly 14% of sales.

Backed by the aforementioned headwinds, we expect the company’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 results to be slightly offbeat. However, the potential of its growth initiatives cannot be ignored.

What the Zacks Model Predicts

Our proven model does not conclusively predict that Clorox is likely to beat earnings estimates in fourth-quarter fiscal 2019. This is because a stock needs to have — a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) — for this to happen. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Clorox currently carries a Zacks Rank #3. However, the company’s Earnings ESP of -0.41% lowers the chances of an earnings beat in the upcoming release.

Stocks With Favorable Combination

Here are some companies that you may want to consider as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat:

The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. EL currently has an Earnings ESP of +7.80% and a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Church & Dwight Co., Inc. CHD presently has an Earnings ESP of +1.22% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Inter Parfums, Inc. IPAR currently has an Earnings ESP of +5.26% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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