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Kimberly-Clark 1Q results top Wall Street's view

DALLAS (AP) -- Kimberly-Clark posted sharply higher profits for the first quarter and raised its guidance for the year as a tough cold and flu season drove sales of Kleenex.

Revenue and adjusted net income topped Wall Street expectations and shares of the Dallas company rose nearly 3 percent in premarket trading.

For the three months ended March 31, Kimberly-Clark Corp. earned $531 million, or $1.36 per share. That compares with $468 million, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier.

Stripping out restructuring costs and other items, earnings were $1.48 per share — which the company said was its all-time record.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.33 per share.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $5.32 billion, topping expectations of $5.27 billion.

Shares of Kimberly-Clark gained $2.64, or 2.6 percent, to $104 before the market open.

In the personal care segment, which sells, among other products, Huggies and Kotex pads, revenue edged up 1 percent to $2.4 billion. North American sales were flat compared with a year ago, as higher selling prices were offset by slightly lower volumes. Sales at K-C International climbed 4 percent.

The consumer tissue division reported a 4 percent increase in sales, with prices up 1 percent. Sales in North America, Europe and K-C International all rose. In North America, Kleenex volumes climbed at a low double-digit percentage rate because of a strong cold and flu season and market share gains. Paper towel volumes increased high-single digits, and bathroom tissue volumes rose mid single-digits on the strength of its Cottonelle brand.

Kimberly-Clark bumped up its expectations for the year by a dime, and now expects 2013 adjusted earnings in a range of $5.60 to $5.75 per share. That's also better than the $5.59 per share that analysts had been predicting.

However, the company anticipates higher restructuring costs through 2014 for changes it is making to its Western and Central European businesses. Kimberly-Clark previously disclosed that it had decided to stop selling diapers in Western and Central Europe, except Italy. It will also sell or exit some lower-margin businesses in certain markets, mainly in the consumer tissue segment. The company now expects after-tax restructuring costs between $300 million and $350 million. It previously anticipated costs between $250 million to $350 million.