LONDON -- The shares of Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB ) (NASDAQOTH: RBGPF ) climbed 1% to 4,755 pence during early London trade this morning after the consumer-products giant revealed first-quarter sales of 2.5 billion pounds.
Reckitt said the sales figure was 7% higher than last year and was driven by a strong emerging-market performance and "higher incidences of cold and flu in the U.S."
Reckitt's Health division, which makes cold-remedy products such as Strepsils, Nurofen and Mucinex, enjoyed revenue growth of 5% in North America and Europe. The division's revenue grew 13% like-for-like, and now account for 27% of group sales.
Reckitt's recent emphasis on emerging markets continues, with Latin America, Asia, and Pacific revenues growing by 11%, as the group continues to roll out its "powerbrands" such as Durex and Gaviscon in India, Brazil, and China.
The company's largest division, Hygiene, grew like-for-like sales by 9%, reflecting the group's overall strong first-quarter results.
Commenting on the results, chief executive Rakesh Kapoor added:
We are pleased with a strong start to the year, with our Health and Hygiene brands leading RB's growth across all geographies. Growth was driven from a combination of innovations, increased Brand Equity Investments and better in market execution.
On Suboxone, our patient-preferred sublingual film in the U.S. increased its market share to 69%. The generic version of tablets became available during March, and their early impact is in line with expectations.
We expect continued challenging market conditions but nonetheless we remain confident that we can achieve our full year targets of 5-6% total net revenue growth while maintaining operating margins.
With a market cap of 34 billion pounds, Reckitt trades at around 18 times expected earnings and on a prospective dividend yield of 3%.
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