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P&G reports flat 3Q profit, buys Merck unit

FILE - This July 9, 2015, file photo, shows signage outside Procter & Gamble corporate headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. Procter & Gamble reports earnings Thursday, April 19, 2018. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Procter & Gamble Co. reported flat fiscal third-quarter profit as it faces increased competition for consumer products such as shaving cream and household goods.

The Cincinnati company also said it is paying $4.2 billion for Merck KGaA's consumer health unit, adding products and geographic reach. Products include nutritional supplements for pregnant women, cod liver oil capsules and back pain balm.

P&G's profit in the three months ended March 31 remained essentially flat at $2.51 billion, though it rose 2 cents on a per-share basis to 95 cents. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and pretax expenses, were $1 per share. Revenue rose 4 percent to $16.28 billion.

Both figures topped Wall Street expectations.

Revenue was driven mainly by a boost in beauty product sales, helping to offset price reductions for its shaving products. P&G moved to cut prices on items including razor blades and shaving cream as it faces increased competition in that sector.

President and CEO David Taylor said the company is facing a challenging "macro environment" and that markets that it operates within are being transformed.

Looking ahead, the company adjusted its earnings guidance and now expects a 6 percent to 8 percent boost. Previously it forecast a 5 percent boost at the low end of the range.

P&G shares have fallen 15 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased slightly more than 1 percent. In morning trading, shares slipped 2.9 percent to $75.25.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on PG at https://www.zacks.com/ap/PG