Procter & Gamble Co
We are focused on how consumers define value, regardless of the economic situation they're in, Chairman and Chief Executive A.G. Lafley said at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Boca Raton, Florida, on Thursday.
The company outlined how its tiers of products can appeal to cash-strapped consumers and those looking for better quality. For example, consumers can buy Bounty paper towels, which will have a new thicker version in stores in March, or Bounty Basic, which costs about 25 percent less.
Shoppers looking for lower-priced laundry detergent can buy Era, which costs about 35 percent less than regular Tide. Those willing to pay for features like reduced fading of their clothing can spend 60 percent more than they would pay for regular Tide to buy Tide Total Care, which came out in 2008.
Despite the high price, Lafley said that Tide Total Care should have more than $150 million in sales in its first year.
P&G has no real need to change its strategic direction, Lafley told the crowd. He said that his confidence in P&G's growth is not diminished in the current economic climate.
Shares of P&G, which have fallen in recent weeks, were up 2 percent in morning trade.
While P&G expressed confidence in its plans, it noted that some retailers are under pressure in the tough credit market.
In one extreme case, a large customer suspended all shipments of P&G products during the last two weeks of December, Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said.
The company said that it was a U.S. retailer, and that shipments have resumed, but declined to name the chain.
While some commodity costs have come down, overall costs are still higher than in the past, Moeller said. Also, P&G faces higher transaction costs overseas. Therefore, it raised prices about 20 percent this month in Russia and Mexico.
Moeller said he expects P&G can broadly hold onto the price increases it has already taken, and that a rollback of commodity-driven price increases is currently unwarranted.
Moeller also aimed to differentiate P&G from the market overall by saying that P&G remains committed to its dividend and share repurchases.
The company confirmed its long-term goal, calling for organic sales, which exclude the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and foreign exchange, to rise 4 percent to 6 percent. Still, as it said last month, such sales should only rise 2 to 5 percent in the current fiscal year, which ends in June.
Moeller said that near-term results will be more volatile as P&G deals with the current economic climate.
Shares of P&G rose to $52.05 morning trading. The shares fell to $49.30 on Tuesday, their lowest level since 2004.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)