Kimberly-Clark Reports First-Quarter Earnings

Consumer products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark  (NYSE: KMB  )  reported first-quarter earnings today that came in $0.02 short of consensus estimates while generally meeting top-line expectations.

Kimberly-Clark recorded revenues of $5.32 billion in the quarter that ended March 31, a 1.5% increase over last year's $5.24 billion, and pretty much in line with Wall Street's estimates of $5.36 billion. On the bottom line, the company generated $531 million, or $1.36 per share, up 15% from the year-ago figure but just shy of the $1.38-per-share estimate on a GAAP basis.

On an adjusted basis, however, excluding charges for costs related to its pulp and tissue restructuring actions, earnings per share were $1.48, a first-quarter record. Last year the company undertook changes to its consumer and professional businesses in western and central Europe where it will exit the diaper business while divesting or exiting some lower-margin businesses, mostly in the consumer tissue market. Italy's diaper business will remain unaffected.

Kimberly-Clark chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk believes the consumer products company is off to a good start for the year, and noted, "As a result of our strong first quarter performance, we are raising our full-year outlook for adjusted earnings per share while we continue to invest for long-term success.  We are optimistic about our plans and believe that execution of our global business plan strategies will generate attractive returns to shareholders."

Kimberly-Clark now anticipates adjusted earnings for 2013 to be $5.60 to $5.75 per share, up 7% to 10% compared to adjusted earnings per share of $5.25 in 2012. It previously targeted adjusted per-share earnings of $5.50 to $5.65 for 2013.

In the first quarter, personal care segment sales rose 1% and were up 3% organically, while consumer tissue sales were up 4%. Both segments rose as a result of rising volumes and improved pricing, offset in part by the European changes noted above. Its K-C professional segment saw sales fall both here and abroad, and the health care division suffered a 2% decline in sales as higher manufacturing costs and increased expenses pushed the business lower.

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