About 80 percent of the company’s sales come from outside the U.S., with about 50 percent coming from emerging markets.
The New York City-based company on Thursday reported global sales climbing 2 percent on a 3 percent volume gain and 3 percent higher prices. Those gains offset a 4 percent foreign exchange loss for 2012.
Wall Street was looking for more, however, and shares fell more than 3 percent in afternoon trading.
Colgate-Palmolive said global organic sales rose 6 percent last year, led by organic sales in emerging markets that were up 10 percent, said CEO Ian Cook.
"Colgate's global market shares in toothpaste and manual toothbrushes are both at record highs year-to-date. Colgate's share of the global toothpaste market strengthened to 44.6 percent year-to-date, up 0.5 share points versus year ago,” Cook said.
“Our global leadership in manual toothbrushes also strengthened during the quarter, with Colgate's global market share in that category reaching 32.7 percent year-to-date, up 0.8 share points versus year ago.”
Nearly 30 percent of Colgate-Palmolive’s sales come from Latin America. Sales in the region rose 1.5 percent, but a labor slowdown last fall in Venezuela as well as inflation in that country cut operating income by about 4 percent.
“There was incredible uncertainty (in Venezuela) after the election and the lead-up to the inauguration, but the biggest factor was the labor slowdown in our facilities. That was something that took us time (to handle),” Cook said in a conference call.
Analysts expect the company to continue in 2013 benefiting from its strong market position in emerging markets.
“We believe Colgate-Palmolive will be able to maintain its strong market share and to continue investing in R&D and marketing, ultimately benefiting from rising incomes and changing lifestyles, especially in less mature overseas markets,” S&P said in a note.