P&G profit tops estimates as shoppers stock up on diapers, toilet rolls

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(Reuters) – Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly profit on Friday as consumers stockpiled on everything from diapers and detergent to toilet rolls amid sweeping lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Procter & Gamble Co. is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Sales at P&G’s units that make well-known brands such as Bounty paper towels, Tampax tampons, Charmin toilet paper, and Pampers diapers rose between 6% and 8%, boosting the company’s shares in early trading.

“The strong results we delivered this quarter are a direct reflection of the integral role our products play in meeting the daily health, hygiene and cleaning needs of consumers around the world,” Chief Executive Officer David Taylor said.

P&G is one of the first consumer products companies to report results for the January-March quarter, during which the coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly across the world and prompted panic buying on fears of stringent lockdowns.

Supermarkets like Kroger and Costco have reported a surge in sales in March, forcing them to limit the number of customers in stores and limiting hours in the morning to senior citizens.

While everyday essentials have been in demand, sales of beauty and grooming products have dwindled as people stay indoors. Sales fell at P&G’s beauty segment, which sells premium skincare products like SK-II, as well as its grooming unit.

Organic shipment volume rose 6% on strong demand in North America and certain European markets, P&G said, but volumes decreased in certain Asian markets as stores remained closed.

The company raised its dividend earlier this week and advanced its results. The last time the company advanced its earnings date was when Trian started a proxy contest, which led to Nelson Peltz joining the company’s board after a showdown.

For the third quarter ended March 31, net sales rose about 5% to $17.21 billion as consumers stocked up during the last few weeks of the quarter in the United States.

Analysts were expecting sales of $17.46 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding one-time items, P&G earned $1.17 per share, beating Wall Street estimates by 4 cents.

Net earnings attributable to the company rose 6.3% to $2.92 billion.

The company, however, cut its full-year sales growth target to 3%-4% from its prior forecast of 4%-5% to account for currency fluctuation.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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