Global consumer products powerhouse Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL), which makes Colgate toothpaste and Palmolive dishwashing soap, is expected to report an 8.6 percent fourth-quarter profit increase as product innovation spurred sales growth and offset the drag of a strong dollar.
The New York City-based company, which will report its fourth-quarter results Thursday before the markets open, is expected to report net income of $692.45 million, or 68 cents per share, compared to $671 million, or 63 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue is projected to increase 2.6 percent, from $4.29 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, to $4.4 billion.
Excluding one-time items, analysts expect earnings per share of 74 cents compared with 71 cents in the fourth quarter of last year.
Colgate-Palmolive sells oral, personal and home care items and pet nutrition goods and dominates the global toothpaste market with 45 percent market share.
A restructuring program launched in 2012 led to a broad array of new products, including higher-margin products, selective expansion of regional successes like introducing the Slim Soft toothbrush line from Asia to the U.S. and redesigning core brands like Total for the European market. Such moves gave Colgate-Palmolive higher growth rates in 2013, despite currency headwinds, according to Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia (CLSA).
Ian Cook, Colgate-Palmolive’s CEO, said in October that the restructuring program was “on track and proceeding smoothly.”
“Advertising investment increased versus year ago, both absolutely and as a percent to sales, and we continue to plan for higher levels of commercial investment in the balance of the year in support of a very full pipeline of new products worldwide,” Cook said.
Historically, Colgate-Palmolive’s spending on advertising has correlated with higher volume growth, according to Barclays.
“In the U.S., CL is growing ahead of the underlying categories in practically every retail environment,” Credit Suisse analyst Michael Steib wrote in a late-October note. “Premium innovation is a key driver of these gains.”
Barclays analysts anticipate a foreign exchange drag of 3.5 percent on fourth-quarter profit, but Colgate-Palmolive’s savings from restructuring costs is expected to offset the currency losses.
The company’s market share in Brazil is more than 70 percent and in Mexico more than 80 percent. Colgate-brand oral products also have more than 50 percent market share in India and more than a third of the market in China with its flagship brand and a local brand, Darlie, according to CLSA research.
Pet nutrition accounted for 12 percent of sales in the third quarter and is expected to have remained much the same in the fourth quarter. Latin America accounted for nearly 30 percent of the company’s oral, personal and home care sales in the third quarter of 2013, followed by Europe and South Pacific (20 percent), North America (18 percent), Asia (14 percent), and Africa and Eurasia (7 percent), according to company data.
“With its selectively dominant market shares, significant emerging markets exposure, and relatively price inelastic product portfolio supported by innovation, Colgate has exemplified the hallmarks of a high quality, defensive growth name,” Barclays analyst Lauren Lieberman wrote in a Jan. 10 note.
Analysts from Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse and CLSA all forecast that Colgate-Palmolive will outperform its peers, specifically competitor Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) in the fourth quarter and continuing into 2014.