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The Clorox Company (CLX) Q4 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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CLX earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2021.

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The Clorox Company (CLX -1.39%)
Q4 2021 Earnings Call
Aug 3, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to The Clorox Company Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2021 Earnings Release Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference call, Ms. Lisah Burhan, Vice President of Investor Relations, for The Clorox Company. Ms. Burhan, you may begin.

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Lisah Burhan -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thanks, Christy. Welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining us. We hope you and your families are continuing to stay safe and well. Before we get started, I want to let you know that we're making some changes to how we present our results. Today, Linda will start by providing some overall key takeaways for the year. Next, I'll follow up with some highlights from each of our segments. Kevin will then address our financial results as well as our outlook for fiscal year '22. And finally, Linda will return to offer her perspective, and we'll close with Q&A. Now a few reminders before we go into results. We're broadcasting this call over the Internet, and a replay of the call will be available for seven days at our website, thecloroxcompany.com.

Today's discussion contains forward-looking statements, including statements related to the expected or potential impacts of COVID-19. These statements are based on management's current expectations but may differ from actual results or outcomes. In addition, we may refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to the Forward-Looking Statements section, which identifies various factors that could affect such forward-looking statements, and the non-GAAP Financial Information section, including the tables that reconcile non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures, both of which are located at the end of today's earnings release, which has also been posted on our website and filed with the SEC.

Now I'll turn it over to Linda.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Lisah. Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Fiscal '21 was an extraordinary year for Clorox, with the pandemic putting us through the ultimate test of volatility, including rapid changes in consumer demand and significant cost inflation, which was reflected in our Q4 results. Despite the complexities we faced, we delivered 9% sales growth for the fiscal year on a reported and organic basis, reflecting growth in all four reportable segments. This was on top of the reported 8% increase we delivered in fiscal '20. On a two-year stack basis, we delivered 17% sales growth. With rising cost pressures, we experienced declines in gross margin, particularly in Q4, resulting in a decrease of 200 basis points for the fiscal year, which we will discuss in more detail.

Fiscal year '21 adjusted EPS decreased 2% to $7.25. Recognizing the immediate priorities before us, I would like to reinforce what matters most: long-term profitable growth. With a business that's significantly larger than before the pandemic and a portfolio of trusted brands exposed to more tailwinds, we have clarity in our strategic imperatives, and I have every confidence in our ability to continue delivering long-term value creation for our shareholders. When I look at fiscal '21, our performance has shown the strength of our people, brands and products as well as the resilience of our category as we work tirelessly to supply consumers with products across our portfolio. As a result, we experienced significant growth in demand and strengthened our position among global consumers, with strong household penetration, supported by higher repeat rates across new and existing users. The last 12 months have also demonstrated the need to accelerate our IGNITE Strategy to address near-term headwinds and capitalize on long-term opportunities.

The industry environment remains dynamic, with significant inflationary pressure and continuing uncertainty. In the face of these conditions, our top priority is strong execution to mitigate the impact of elevated cost headwinds and continue to improve market share. The pandemic has also highlighted areas where additional investments can help us be as agile as possible in the future. We are clear on the opportunities ahead of us to differentiate Clorox and build a stronger, more resilient and more profitable company. This includes driving our growth runways and making investments to enhance our digital capabilities and drive productivity improvements, which I will discuss shortly. We are confident that strong execution of our IGNITE Strategy will enable us to achieve our 3% to 5% long-term sales target and deliver long-term shareholder value. Before I discuss Q4 and our progress against our strategy, I would like to thank our Clorox teammates around the world for everything they have accomplished over the past year as well as their commitment and dedication to serving people and communities around the world.

For Q4, faster-than-expected moderating demand for cleaning and disinfecting products had a pronounced impact on sales growth as we moved through the peak of the pandemic and lapped the unprecedented demand we experienced last year. The magnitude of this quarter's gross margin contraction was a result of faster-than-expected sales moderation, acceleration of inflationary headwinds and improvements in supply, which led to broader product assortment, including the reintroduction of value packs. I'll discuss shortly the actions we're taking to address these headwinds. Now let me share a few highlights of our progress on our IGNITE Strategy. First, with fuel growth being a critical focus to help address elevated cost pressures and ensure the long-term health of our brands, I'm pleased we delivered over $120 million in cost savings in the fiscal year, surpassing our annual target. Second, we made strong progress on our 2025 goal to know 100 million people, crossing the halfway mark to our goal this fiscal year. Our higher investment in personalization has led to significantly improved ROI. It has been one of the contributors to increasingly strong payouts, driving our confidence in continued investments in our brands.

Third, with innovation at the heart of our strategy, we doubled our innovation investments in fiscal '21, and new products were a bigger contributor to our top line, which we expect to continue in fiscal '22. Next, as consumers have increased their digital usage during the pandemic, we leaned into digital marketing and commerce, resulting in our e-commerce business nearly doubling in the last two years, which today represents about 13% of total company sales. Finally, we continue to make progress on our ESG goals. For example, we advanced our commitment to climate action and submitted our proposal on science-based targets for our operations and Scope three emissions to the Science Based Targets initiative in June. And as a people-centric company, we continue to focus on the wellbeing of our teammates and our values-based inclusive culture. I'm particularly proud that during this trying year, we achieved our best safety score in recorded history, with a recordable incident rate of 0.26, significantly lower than the 3.3 industry average. I'm also pleased that in fiscal '21, we continued to have high employee engagement of 87%, putting us at the top quartile of Fortune 500 companies.

Now let me turn to fiscal '22. We expect inflationary pressure to persist, along with continued moderating demand as we lap COVID-19-related demand surges in the first half of fiscal '21. While this is reflected in our fiscal '22 outlook, which Kevin will discuss, by the second half of the year, we expect to be within the lower end of the range of our long-term sales targets. Like others in our industry and beyond, we are experiencing significant increases in input and transportation costs across all categories in our portfolio, which have accelerated since Q3. And we're holistically and dynamically managing this with a laser focus on rebuilding margin. We implemented pricing on Glad and announced actions on our Food, Cleaning and International businesses. This represents about 50% of our portfolio. We're also pursuing pricing in additional parts of our portfolio, which we'll communicate at the right time. Based on the constructive conversations we're having with our retail partners and importantly, the strength of our brands, we feel confident about our ability to execute our pricing plans. In addition, we will continue to drive our hallmark cost savings program.

We expect sequential gross margin improvements as we progress through fiscal '22, with our assumption for gross margin expansion by Q4. In terms of market share, as we've discussed previously, we have experienced some declines due to supply challenges, but have made notable progress. With strong investments in internal and external production capacity, including additional manufacturing lines and a significant expansion of our production team, in June, we achieved our highest case fill rate since the start of the pandemic. I'm pleased to see that in the latest 13-week data, ending July 17, we saw market share gains in seven out of nine businesses. Certainly, we recognize there's more work to do in parts of the portfolio, such as Glad Trash, and we have adjusted our plans to drive market share improvements over time. Despite these near-term headwinds, we remain focused on our long-term priorities rooted in our IGNITE Strategy to deliver our long-term growth aspirations. While some pandemic-related behaviors may revert over the next 12 months, we continue to believe there's been a shift in behaviors that will advantage Clorox longer-term, including a focus on health, wellness and hygiene, more time at home as well as increased adoption of e-commerce and digital platforms.

The pandemic also revealed the urgency to upgrade our digital infrastructure and capabilities. Last year, I brought in Chief Information and Enterprise Analytics Officer, Chau Banks, who has extensive experience in business-driven digital transformation, to conduct a fresh assessment of our own program that was already underway before the pandemic. With that assessment now complete, we are accelerating our transformation through planned investments of about $500 million over the next five years to enhance our digital capabilities and drive productivity improvements, including replacing our ERP. This will enhance our supply chain to better position Clorox to meet customer needs, yield efficiencies and support our digital commerce, innovation and brand-building efforts. Prior to the pandemic, we were already adapting our business to differentiate Clorox from a digital perspective. We'll continue to invest in e-commerce and digital marketing across our portfolio, leveraging data-driven insights to engage with consumers in more relevant ways. Moving to innovation. Innovation continues to be a key focus area for me and our new Chief Growth Officer, Tony Matta, who joined last October.

Tony has more than 20 years of brand-building experience with leading consumer companies. Ensuring we have stickier innovation delivering multiyear value, we're driving lasting new product platforms, such as Fresh Step Clean Paws and Scentiva, which continue to grow. In addition, we're extending innovation by leveraging external partners to create new revenue streams. We're continuing to support our brands, especially margin-accretive innovation, with disciplined high-ROI advertising and sales promotion investments to build and strengthen consumer loyalty. We also remain very focused on driving our growth runways to build Clorox into a global cleaning and disinfecting brand. We are still in the early stages of a multiyear journey, but continue to believe they can become a meaningful contributor to growth longer-term. And as we execute on all these initiatives, we will continue to drive the strategic link between our societal impacts and long-term value creation as we live our purpose and keep our ESG commitments front and center in our decision-making every day.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Lisah to review our business unit performance.

Lisah Burhan -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Linda. Now turning to our segment results. In Health and Wellness, Q4 sales decreased 17% for the quarter, while full year sales were up 8%, with growth across all businesses. On a two-year stack basis, Q4 sales grew 16% and full year sales grew 22%. In Cleaning, sales were down by double digits compared to double-digit growth in the year ago quarter, primarily due to the deceleration of demand across various cleaning and disinfecting products. On a full year basis, Cleaning sales grew behind a strong front half performance. While demand fell faster than anticipated, it remains higher than it was pre-pandemic, with strong repeat rates among new buyers. Importantly, our supply and product assortment are almost fully restored, which is reflected in our market share improvement, especially in wipes and sprays. As consumer demand migrated to more preferred forms and value packs, we also saw a negative impact to price mix, which we expect to continue over the next few quarters. Going forward, we'll be focused on strengthening our merchandising activities, especially for the back-to-school period.

Sales in Professional Products were down by double digits versus year ago period, when we experienced double-digit growth. For the full year, Professional Products sales were up by double digits, fueled by an exceptional front half performance. Demand started moderating in Q3 and continued into Q4 as customers worked through high inventory levels, especially of Clorox T 360 electrostatic sprayers. In the short term, we expect results will continue to be volatile as we lap periods with unprecedented demand. Longer-term, this business continues to be a strategic growth area for the company. As part of our initiative to expand into new channels, we continue to add to our roster of out-of-home partnerships, including Live Nation, the world's leading live events company. Lastly, within the Health and Wellness segment, our Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements business increased by double digits this quarter after lapping a double-digit decrease caused by a supply disruption related to COVID-19. For the full year, sales were up as well. Sales growth for the quarter was driven by a strong performance in the food, drug and mass channel and e-commerce.

Turning to the Household segment. Q4 sales were down 8%. Full year sales grew 10%, with growth across all three businesses. On a two-year stack basis, Q4 sales grew 8% and full year sales grew 12%. Glad sales decreased by double digits in Q4, lapping strong double-digit growth in the year ago quarter, which was impacted by initial stockpiling. For the full year, sales were up. Our efforts going forward are focused on managing base with the strong inflationary headwinds we're facing. And as Linda mentioned, we still have more work to do in this business to restore market share. Grilling sales decreased by double digits in Q4 as demand started moderating after four consecutive quarters of strong double-digit growth. For the full year, sales grew by double digits, fueled by very strong consumption overall. Our focus on expanding distribution of our latest innovation, Kingsford Pellets, continued with a nationwide launch, building on the product's initial success, while we're also introducing signature flavors made with 100% real spices that will be available in select retailers before Labor Day as we gear up for the 2022 grilling season.

This innovation is intended to help our business continue building consumption among multicultural millennials and other heavy grillers. Cat Litter sales grew by double digits in Q4 driven by continued strong consumption. For the full year, Litter sales also grew. The result reflected strength in e-commerce, with Fresh Step becoming the number one brand online for the first time and positive overall category trends, boosted by record pet adoptions during the pandemic. Going forward, we're excited about our latest innovation, Fresh Step Outstretch Litter, which lasts 50% longer than regular litter thanks to patent-pending technology. In our Lifestyle segment, sales were down 3% and full year sales grew 6%. On a two-year stack basis, Q4 sales grew 13% and full year sales grew 16%. Brita sales were down as demand continued to moderate from an extended period of elevated consumption. Full year sales grew on top of double-digit growth in the prior year. Despite the deceleration in Q4, business fundamentals are strong, especially now that our supply is mostly restored. We're excited about the strong merchandising program we've put in place this year, including the largest back-to-college event ever for the brand.

The Food business was down, primarily due to lower shipments of Hidden Valley Ranch bottle dressings, with consumption moderating as consumer mobility improved. Full year sales were up by double digits, on top of double-digit growth in the prior year. The consumer fundamentals for this business are strong, with the brand growing market share and household penetration. Burt's Bees sales increased by double digits this quarter as overall category consumption begin to recover. Full year sales were down as category consumption was negatively impacted by store closures, mask mandates and stay-at-home measures. We expect this business to continue to recover as people begin returning to their pre-pandemic shopping patterns and consumer mobility keeps improving. We'll build on that momentum with our new "Lips To Love" campaign, supported by a strong innovation pipeline. Lastly, turning to International. Q4 sales grew 5%, reflecting the combined impact of the Saudi JV acquisition and benefit of price increases, partially offset by lower shipments due to the moderating demand after a period of elevated consumption. Extended lockdowns in Canada also contributed to the decrease in shipments.

The results are on top of 12% growth in the year ago period, when we saw elevated consumption across our portfolio during the early stages of the pandemic. Importantly, we continue to expand our global Disinfecting Wipes business, building on the dedicated international supply chain that was developed in five months and are making progress launching our Clorox Expert Disinfecting Wipes in existing countries as well as new markets. For the full year, sales increased 14%, reflecting very strong growth for the majority of the year before moderating in Q4. On a two-year stack basis, Q4 sales grew 17% and full year sales grew 19%.

Now I'll turn it over to Kevin, who will discuss Q4 and full year financial results for FY '21 as well as our outlook for FY '22.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Lisah, and thank you, everyone, for joining us today. As Linda mentioned, for fiscal year '21, we delivered 9% sales growth on top of 8% sales growth in fiscal year '20. While this is lower than we anticipated in our outlook, we feel good about delivering another strong sales year. Of course, we continue to manage through an extremely challenging cost environment, which impacted our fiscal year margins and earnings. Importantly, we delivered another year of strong cash flow, which came in at $1.3 billion compared to a record $1.5 billion for fiscal year '20. I'm pleased our strong cash flow allowed us to return almost $1.5 billion to our shareholders through our dividend and share repurchase program, representing an increase of about 90% in cash returned to shareholders versus fiscal year '20. Before I review our Q4 results, I wanted to highlight a $28 million noncash charge we booked in Q4 related to a third-party supplier for our Professional Products business.

As we have shared previously, during the height of the pandemic, we worked with a number of third-party suppliers to support us in addressing unprecedented demand in the consumer and professional spaces. We are reducing our reliance on one of these suppliers, and as a result, we took a charge in the fourth quarter. Important to note, this noncash charge is included in our reported EPS and excluded from our Q4 adjusted EPS as it represents a nonrecurring item. Turning to our fourth quarter results. Fourth quarter sales decreased 9% in comparison to a 22% increase in the year ago quarter, delivering a two-year stack of 13% sales growth. Our sales results reflect an 8% decline in organic volume and two points of unfavorable price mix, primarily in our Health and Wellness segment, as supply improvements resulted in a broader product assortment, including the reintroduction of value packs. On an organic basis, fourth quarter sales declined 10%. Fourth quarter sales were lower than expected, primarily in our Health and Wellness segment, as demand for cleaning and disinfecting products moderated more rapidly than we had previously anticipated.

While the cleaning and disinfecting category continues to moderate, we're pleased to see improving share as we've increased our ability to supply. Gross margin for the quarter decreased 970 basis points to 37.1% compared to 46.8% in the year ago quarter. Gross margin results were lower than anticipated, largely driven by higher input costs and lower sales. The year-over-year change in Q4 gross margin was primarily driven by lower sales, resulting in lower manufacturing fixed cost absorption as well as significant cost headwinds, driving about 290 basis points of higher commodity costs, 180 basis points of increased transportation costs as well as 130 basis points of unfavorable mix. Our fourth quarter gross margin also includes about 70 basis points of negative impact from the noncash charge I just mentioned. These margin headwinds were partially offset by about 90 basis points of cost savings and 50 basis points of benefit from our pricing actions in our International division. Selling and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales came in at 14.4% compared to 14.1% in the year ago quarter.

Advertising and sales promotion investment levels as a percentage of sales came in at about 12%, with U.S. spending at about 14% of sales. Strong investments in Q4 supported our back half innovation program and reflected our continued focus on building loyalty among new consumers. Our fourth quarter effective tax rate was 0%, primarily driven by a tax benefit from the exiting of a small foreign subsidiary, which was mostly offset by the charge we took to pre-tax book income associated with this decision as well as favorable return to provision adjustments. On a full year basis, our effective tax rate was 20%. Net of all these factors, adjusted earnings per share for the fourth quarter came in at $0.95 versus $2.41 in the year ago quarter, a decline of 61%. Before I review the details of our outlook, let me provide perspective on the strategic investment Linda discussed. We are planning to invest about $500 million over the next five years to enhance our digital capabilities and drive productivity improvements, including the replacement of our ERP.

In fiscal year '22, we plan to invest about $90 million in operating and capital expenditures, with about $55 million impacting our P&L and the remainder reflected in our balance sheet. Beginning in Q1 and going forward, our adjusted EPS will exclude the portion of the $500 million investment that flows through our P&L to provide better insights into our underlying operating performance of our business. Now turning to our fiscal year '22 outlook. We anticipate fiscal year sales to be down 2% to 6%, reflecting ongoing demand moderation, primarily in our cleaning and disinfecting products in the front half of the fiscal year, in addition to the unfavorable mix and higher trade spending as we move to a more normalized supply and promotional environment. We assume these factors will be partially offset by the pricing actions we're taking broadly across our portfolio. Organic sales are expected to be down 2% to 6% as well.

We expect front half sales to decline high single to low double digits as we lap 27% growth in the front half of fiscal year '21, during the height of the pandemic. Additionally, we expect Q1 sales to decline low double digits. As we move to the back half of the year, we expect to return to the lower end of our long-term sales growth target. Of course, we continue to operate in a dynamic and uncertain environment, which could impact our outlook. We anticipate fiscal year gross margin to be down 300 to 400 basis points due to our assumption for significant ongoing headwinds from elevated commodity and transportation costs, which represent nearly $300 million in year-over-year cost increases. We expect these headwinds to be more pronounced in the front half of the year, particularly in Q1, as we expect key commodity cost increases to reduce gross margin by about 500 basis points, driving our assumption for Q1 gross margin to decline 1,100 to 1,300 basis points. For perspective, in Q1, we are lapping a modern gross margin record of 48%, reflecting over 400 basis points of favorable operating leverage on 27% sales growth in the year ago quarter.

As we mentioned in our press release, we expect sequential improvement for gross margin over the course of fiscal year '22, with the assumption for gross margin expansion in Q4. This is based on our assumption that cost inflation will begin to moderate, and it will see the benefits from mitigating actions flow more fully through our P&L. We expect fiscal year selling and administrative expenses to be about 15% of sales, which includes about one point of impact related to our investment to enhance our digital capabilities. Additionally, we anticipate fiscal year advertising spending to be about 10% of sales, reflecting our ongoing commitment to invest behind our brands and build market share. We expect our fiscal year tax rate to be about 22% to 23%. The year-over-year increase primarily reflects lapping several onetime benefits in the prior fiscal year. Net of these factors, we anticipate fiscal year adjusted EPS to be between $5.40 to $5.70. As we start fiscal year '22, I would like to emphasize our priority to address elevated cost pressures from both commodities and transportation throughout the fiscal year. We are focused on executing the pricing actions we discussed today.

We have implemented our announced price increase on our Bags and Wraps and are taking pricing on our Food, Cleaning and International businesses. This represents about 50% of our portfolio. We are also pursuing pricing in additional parts of our portfolio, which we'll announce at a later date. While it's still early, we are confident in our ability to price given the strength of our brand and the constructive conversations we're having with retailers. Consistent with our IGNITE Strategy, we're addressing short-term headwinds head-on, with an eye on the long-term health of our business. We will continue to invest in our brands, including meaningful innovation to drive differentiation, which will help us continue to drive superior consumer value. We are leaning into our cost savings program and productivity initiatives to help address ongoing cost pressures. And we're accelerating investments in our digital transformation to drive increased capabilities, lower costs across our supply chain and improve innovation efforts and our brand engagement activities.

And finally, as Linda mentioned, our business is significantly larger than before the pandemic, and we're well positioned for the future. Our global portfolio of trusted brands is more relevant than ever, and we're positioning ourselves to make the most of the changing consumer trends we see. We have confidence in our strategic plans and our ability to execute to enable us to continue to create long-term value for our shareholders.

And with that, I'll turn it back over to Linda.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Kevin. Before we open the line for questions, I wanted to take a moment to reiterate our commitment to and confidence in Clorox' long-term growth and value-creation potential, which is fueled by our IGNITE Strategy. We're focused on strong execution in the face of dynamic conditions, including addressing significant cost headwinds and improving market share. In addition, we have clarity on the strategic imperatives and executional mandate to differentiate Clorox and build a stronger, more resilient and more profitable company.

And as we accelerate and execute our IGNITE Strategy, we're confident that it will drive improved performance. Christy, you may now open the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And your first question is from Dara Mohsenian of Morgan Stanley.

Dara Mohsenian -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hey, guys. So two questions. Just first, on the $500 million investment program on digital and productivity, can you just give us a better sense for why the program is necessary now? We've heard the IGNITE Strategy has been working in the last couple of years. We've heard historically that you're ahead of the curve and competition on the e-commerce side from you guys and happy with the innovation progress. So it sounds like there was a review when you took over, Linda, and obviously Chau Banks appointment. But I'm sure you were focused on these areas before also. So was this a surprise? How did it develop, particularly given it's such a large amount? And then as we think about the payback, is this what's necessary to get back to long-term goals at some point? In theory, sometimes a big spending program can yield payback above and beyond prior goals. I'm assuming, at this point, it's more to help return to prior long-term goals. And then I also have a second question on gross margins, if I can come back.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Dara. Thank you. So why don't we start with your first question, why necessary now, and what's clear is the pandemic has absolutely accelerated consumer digital behaviors in a way that we never contemplated during our IGNITE Strategy. And certainly, we saw that as a key consumer tailwind for us as we penned that strategy, but we've seen such a rapid movement online by consumers, both in the e-commerce space and certainly in the marketing consumption space, that we really knew we needed to take a step back and look at the program that we had in place and ensure that it was sufficient for us to deliver as we move forward and what we look to as across the entire operation. And I think the other thing that I would note is our challenges in fiscal year '21, managing the type of volatility that we haven't been exposed to in the past, underscore the urgency to upgrade that digital infrastructure and capabilities. And what I want to make clear is this is really not about today. This is about maintaining momentum as we come out of our IGNITE Strategy period. And you'll see the bulk of the value of this comes after our IGNITE Strategy period, so 2025 and beyond. This will allow us to have really real-time access to data and information that will help our entire operation move more efficiently and better serve consumer and customer needs.

So we're making, first, an investment in our ERP, which is the foundation and infrastructure of all of these changes, and that's needed and accelerated to build these digital capabilities. We'll have better supply chain visibility across all parts of the supply chain with real-time data, which will improve things like procurement and supply planning. It will further enhance the work that you already referenced, that we've done on digital and e-commerce, and further enhance our ability to do personalization and get more out of that goal and will help us on innovation. So really what this was about was the change in circumstances in the environment, a rapid change in consumer behavior that we couldn't have been predicted before the pandemic. And we're leaning in, and this is really about building a stronger company with more momentum coming out of the strategy period.

Dara Mohsenian -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Okay. And then can you just talk a little bit about the yield from this, how we should think about that in terms of timing and magnitude over time? And then second, Kevin, on gross margins, when you include the guidance for fiscal 2022, you're obviously experiencing a lot of gross margin compression over a two-year period, probably a record amount of compression. So I'm just trying to understand your focus on pricing. It seems like the magnitude and timing of the pricing is less than what we've seen in the past versus these unprecedented cost pressures. So I just want to understand why we're not seeing a greater offset through pricing. Is pricing more difficult in this environment from a retailer or a competitive perspective? Is it more some of the pressure was unexpected? Are there other pressure points on gross margin? How do you sort of think about and help us understand why we're not seeing more of an offset to those outsized cost pressures like we're seeing at some of your peers?

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes, Dara, thanks for the question. And let me share a perspective on gross margin. If I think about where we were before the pandemic, our gross margin was just below 44%, about 43.9%. As we moved through the pandemic, over the last couple of years, we ended this year about 43.6%, so just a little below where we were before the pandemic began. As we go forward, as both Linda and I talked about in our prepared remarks, we are facing what we're describing as an unprecedented cost environment in terms of inflation. Just, Dara, for perspective, as I mentioned before, we're going to experience, we think, about $300 million of cost increases this year between both commodities and transportation. That's about a 400 basis point hit to gross margin this year. Now from the pricing actions we're taking, we think we can offset about 2/3 of those this year with the pricing actions we've announced, plus some more we'll announce at a later date.

And then we expect to fully offset the cost increase going forward, but that will extend beyond fiscal year '22, just based on the phasing of these actions we're taking. And so I feel confident we'll recover these, but that will take a little longer beyond '22. And then the other items, Dara, I would point out you should be aware of, as you think about our margin in fiscal year '22, there's two other items. We had a temporary benefit during the pandemic as it relates to mix as well as trade spending. As I think you know, for many of our categories, there's very limited promotional activity because of the lack of supply. We expected that as temporary and expect that to reverse out as we get back to a more normalized promotional environment. So if you think about fiscal year '22, I expect about 50 bps of headwind from higher trade spending. And then also, on mix, when the pandemic hit and we rationalized our production, try to get as much probably out as possible, we ran 35-count canisters as an example on wipe because we could run the most of those.

As we introduce larger sizes, as we introduce multipacks, which is very good for consumption and trial, that will come in as a lower margin as well. So you'll see that positive mix turn negative as we get back into a more normal level of SKU offerings. And so that's about another 100 basis point hit we're going to see in '22. Now both of those are temporary benefits as a result of the pandemic that we expect to unwind, and they will unwind this year and get back to a more normalized level. And so I think what's important as we go through the year and you think about the phasing of our margins, the biggest challenge we're going to face is in the front half. When you think about the cost environment I highlighted, we expect to take about 75% of those cost increases in the front half of the year. And then you'll see sequential improvements as we move through the year and turn back to margin expansion. I expect, Dara, as we get to Q4 and we start recovering some of these costs, that you should see our gross margins back in the low 40s and we're committed to rebuilding it back to where we were before the pandemic began. Let me stop there and happy to take any follow-ups.

Dara Mohsenian -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Yes. Just on the timing of pricing, it does seem like it's taking longer than it has previously. Obviously, a lot of compression year-over-year in Q4, almost 1,000 basis points, and we're not expecting positive gross margins until you get to Q4 of next year. So I would be curious for your thoughts, specifically around the pricing offset. I understand there are issues like mix and some of the other issues you mentioned. But it does seem like it's taking a long period of time to get pricing in relative to history, so just trying to understand that.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Timing is related to the commitment that we made at the beginning of the pandemic, and we continue to hold fast too, which is our absolute number one priority, was to supply as much of the demand as we possibly could. And that continued to be our priority as we headed through Q4. We made the immediate call to price on Glad given what we were seeing in resin, and that will go in market shortly. And we were doing the work behind the scenes to ready pricing across the rest of the portfolio as needed. Clearly, we're going to need to pull that lever, and we are, with about 50% announced to date and plans to take additional pricing that we'll communicate more details around coming up in the future. But it really was about that continued priority of meeting as much demand as we possibly could.

Dara Mohsenian -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys.

Operator

Our next question is from Peter Grom of UBS.

Peter Grom -- UBS -- Analyst

Hey. Good afternoon, everyone. So my question is just more on the conservatism in the guidance at this point. I know there are a lot of moving parts here. But I think a lot of investors are kind of asking, is the company being prudent, conservative, lowering the bar, whatever term you really want to use, so where you've embedded enough flex, that even if trends deteriorate from here, is this guidance range still achievable. I think I know the operating environment is very different, and I'm not sure I would necessarily call them as a rebase versus what we've seen in the past. But it would be helpful to get your view on how much flex there is in this guidance should inflation rise or consumer demand fall more from here.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Peter, this is Kevin. Thank you for the question. On our outlook, what I would say is I don't view this as conservative, I view this as balanced. I think you folks all know, we are operating in an environment of unprecedented volatility as you think about the changing consumer demand, the macro economy as well as how the virus is going to play out. And so we recognize, we've been operating in this environment for the better part of the last 18 months, and we expect that to continue. I would say that's certainly true in the front half of '22. And then our hope is we'll start to see it level out a bit in the back half and get to a more normalized environment. And so you should expect ongoing volatility in the front half. The way, Peter, we try to account for that is we provide a bit of a wider range in our outlook than what we would normally provide at this time of the year. And we just think that's prudent to recognize the level of variability we have. But I would describe this as a balanced forecast based on everything we're seeing to date.

Peter Grom -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. Super helpful. And then just quickly, just maybe a point of clarification on Dara's question or your response to Dara's question. Returning to 40% in Q4, does that mean that you don't expect to be above 40% gross margins until Q4? I just want to make sure I'm thinking about that in the model correctly.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So Peter, the way we're envisioning this playing out over the course of the year is, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, we expect Q1 to be down about 1,100 to 1,300 basis points, primarily driven by the cost environment. And I'll talk about -- more about that in a moment, and then we expect sequential improvement as we move through the year. And by the fourth quarter, we'll turn to margin growth, and then what we expect is by the fourth quarter, we've got margins back in the low 40s, with our expectation going forward in '23. And while I'm not providing an outlook today, I would say, on margin, we fully expect to continue to expand margins as we move into fiscal year '23.

Peter Grom -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you, super helpful, best of luck.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question is from Wendy Nicholson of Citi.

Wendy Nicholson -- Citi -- Analyst

Hi. A couple of questions, first of all, First of all, with the amount of money you're spending on the new digital ERP investments, what's your expectation for kind of capital allocation potentially to step in and support the stock and buy back stock here because I know your leverage is still really low compared to your peers? But then, Linda, kind of stepping back aside from near term, the guidance for 2022 gross margin, I mean, I've covered this stock for 20 years, and I have to go back literally 20 years to find a 40% gross margin for the company. And I totally get that we're in a weird period with COVID, and you made a commitment to not raise prices and I think that's great. But I do beg -- I think it begs the question, is there's something structural in the business?

When you mentioned higher promotional spending, I mean, this does not seem like the time to be investing in promotional spending, when you're also raising prices and you've got so much commodity inflation. So sort of a year into your job as the new CEO, do you think a mid-40s gross margin is the right number and this really is a temporary blip? Or is this a sort of, "Hey, we were maybe over-earning on the gross margin line and low 40s or even high 30s is really where we're sort of more normally positioned." I'm sorry for the long question, but the guidance for a 40% gross margin just seems crazy to me.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Wendy. I'll start with the second part of the question, and then I'll hand it over to Kevin to talk a bit more about capital allocation on your first question. So what we're seeing, and you said it, it's absolutely an extraordinary environment. And if you look at all of the factors combined and what's contributing to our gross margin, I hate this term a little bit, but it's really the perfect storm, where we're lapping incredible sales growth and things like operating leverage. We are lapping promotional levels being down, and I would argue promotional levels for us are strategic. We've always viewed that investment, just like we do our marketing dollars, it helps us build trial. It helps us expose consumers to things like innovation. And that's going to continue to be important in the future. And it's why we want to put that money back in the system to ensure as we have record-setting innovation coming into the marketplace, from a top line perspective, that we're able to support it with those dollars. And then, of course, the cost environment, which I think we're seeing broadly, and it's not just a Clorox issue, but certainly an industry problem. So all of that is happening at once. What that leads me to is this is not a structural issue.

This is a temporary issue, albeit an extraordinary one. And we're managing with discipline. And I think the good news for us is we've managed, albeit not this deep, but certainly environments that have happened like this over time. And what we do is go to work and execute. And we're going to do it just like that in the past. We're going to take pricing, and you're going to see much more pricing come from us now as it starts to pick up. And we've improved supply, as we've spoken about. We're going to put our cost savings machine to work, with the mandate to our team to remove any costs that are possible in the system, and that's what they are focused on every single day right now. And we're going to take it one day at a time and execute it. But I feel confident in our ability to get back to what Kevin spoke about and get back to those margins. It's just not going to happen this year. Again, we'll see improvement in Q4 and continued improvement as we move through fiscal '23, but we do view this as a temporary issue.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

And Wendy, on capital allocation, I would tell you, there's no change in our priorities in terms of how we're going to allocate our capital. And as you know, our first priority will continue to be invest in our base business, and that includes our digital investments. Both Linda and I spoke about that today. And so if you think about where we were last year, we ramped up investments in our base business, both investing in innovation, investing in brand-building as well as investing in increasing production capacity within our supply network, primarily focused on increasing our wipes capacity. And so as we move into fiscal year '22, as we've gotten through some of those investments in our facilities, you should see our capital spending return down more in our normalized range of 3% to 4% of sales where we typically operate. You should expect that this year. And then we will deploy a certain amount of capital toward this technology investment. The way I see this $500 million playing out is about 60% of it will flow through our P&L, and about 40% of that will flow through our balance sheet. And if you think specifically about fiscal year '22, we're going to invest about $90 million with about $35 million flowing through our balance sheet, where we'll deploy cash. And then after we invest in the base business, we'll continue to look for ways to return excess cash to shareholders.

Last year, we generated a tremendous amount of cash to the pandemic, and we returned almost $1.5 billion. I suspect this year, because of the challenging cost environment and the reduced profitability, we'll return closer to somewhere between $700 million and $900 million between our dividend and our share buyback program. But I would also highlight, if you look at our dividend program, with our recent increase we announced back in June, we now have an average annual increase of a little over 7% for the last five years, and that puts us in the top 1/3 of our peer group. So I think we have committed to continually returning excess cash to our shareholders, and we've operated fairly high levels in our peer set and you should expect us to do that going forward.

Wendy Nicholson -- Citi -- Analyst

Okay. That's great. And just on the digital investment, what's the sort of payback timing for that? I mean when should we start to see whether this investment was worth it, if you will, bottom line?

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes, when you think -- thanks for that question. So this is really an investment set in our future. You'll start to see some of that pay back late in our IGNITE Strategy, toward the tail end of it. But this is really about setting up the company to be prepared to succeed over the long term. And so we'll invest the $500 million over the next five years. You should see an investment starting -- a return starting late in our IGNITE period, late '24, '25, and then really accelerating as we get beyond IGNITE. And then what our commitment is, we'll continue to update folks exactly on our progress on both our investments and the returns we're generating on that investment.

Wendy Nicholson -- Citi -- Analyst

Great. Thank you so much for the color.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Wendy.

Operator

Your next question is from Chris Carey of Wells Fargo Securities.

Chris Carey -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Hi, everyone.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Chris.

Chris Carey -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

I wanted to understand, you made some comments in the quarter about the Health and Wellness business normalizing to something like $700 million or below run rate, which clearly played out this quarter. But that business could grow from that over time. And I'm curious your thoughts on time line of that trajectory from where we are today, what you think is going to be developing over that time period, whether that's professional getting back in stock and some of your businesses, the promotional spending or the pricing. And I guess underlying that question as well, I'm conscious, of course, that the Health and Wellness business has really tough comps in the first half. But the Household business also has pretty difficult comps, and the Grilling business is normalizing.

And just trying to get a sense of, if this trajectory is playing out in Health and Wellness, what you kind of see in your Household business for the first half of the year. I guess back-of-the-envelope math would just suggest that you kind of need to see some improvement on a stack basis there and whether I'm thinking about that correctly. And then I just have a quick follow-up.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Chris. I'll start with Cleaning. I think this is absolutely a dynamic time for Cleaning given all of the volatility. But there were two things that we said at the beginning. We believe that this was a change in consumer behavior that would be long term, and the evidence continues to support that, that is absolutely the case. So if you just look at some of the consumption numbers, even though it did decelerate faster than we expected, as vaccination rates picked up, at least until we got to the point we are today, you still see a very strong two-year stack of growth. So in Q4, that was over 20% for our Cleaning business. But also if you look at consumption, that's been up in the range from 25% to 30% versus pre-pandemic levels. So we really are seeing that behavior be sticky with consumers. Of course, we're lapping incredible growth in those businesses and frankly, demand that we couldn't supply early in the pandemic. So what you're seeing is a normalization, but as we said, a significantly higher run rate moving forward, and we expect that to continue.

Exactly where that will net out is still unknown, and I think there's a lot of unknowns moving forward. Delta certainly is an unknown, cold and flu season, etc.. But we have continued confidence that this will be a long-term trend that we can grow off and will provide us the opportunity to accelerate profitable growth and as we talked about raising our sales target to 3% to 5%, this is a portion of that. So continued confidence there. Again, I would say though, as we look to the first half and as we lap 27% sales growth overall for the company for our Cleaning and Disinfecting and for our Household business, we won't expect to deliver accelerated results versus that period. But as we start to lap in the back half is when we get to the low end of our sales algorithm and seeing both Cleaning and Disinfecting and our Household business contributing positively to that.

Chris Carey -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Okay. Yes, thank you for that. Kevin, did you have something -- I just have a quick follow-up. So just on the Health and Wellness margin in the quarter, I appreciate there were some mix dynamics and volume deleveraging. But obviously, it was quite low, well below our model. And any perspective on -- can you expand just on what exactly is occurring in that business? And how we should be thinking about the margin trajectory there going into fiscal '22 and then perhaps why that's going to be improved?

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes, Chris, as it relates to margin on our Health and Wellness segment, I would highlight a few items. So one is, as I mentioned, we took a charge as it relates to a PPD supplier that impacted our Health and Wellness segment, and that was about 11 points in terms of margin, that was noncash. That won't continue going forward. And then also keep in mind, we are lapping 85% growth in the Q4 prior year. So we're lapping a big year-over-year number as well as we're dealing with increased costs. So I think it goes back to what we're talking about, we're dealing with a very challenging cost environment in the very near term, and that's going to pressure margins. But we do think this is short term? We continue to have tremendous confidence that we're going to be able to expand margins as we get to the back half of fiscal year '22 and then on into '23. But we have to recognize that in the very near term, it's going to challenge margins. You saw that in the fourth quarter, and you'll see that in the first half of fiscal year '22.

Chris Carey -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks so much.

Operator

Your next question is from Jason English of Goldman Sachs.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hey good morning folks, or good afternoon I guess anywhere you are. A couple of quick questions. First, real quick on cash flow, have you given free cash flow guidance? If not, can you? And you've got this target out there of free cash flow conversion as a percentage of sales, 11% to 13%. As you migrate away from GAAP and start excluding things, should we expect that ratio to move lower or if you would move to the lower end of that ratio?

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes, Jason, on cash flow, as you rightfully said, our target is 11% to 13%. We've done very well against that target. If you look at fiscal year '20, the height of the pandemic, we delivered a little bit over 19% in terms of cash flow as a percent of sales. We had a good strong year in fiscal year '21. We ended up at 12.9%. I would say, this year, given the challenges on the cost environment, I expect we're going to be at the low end of that range. So I think closer to 11%, if not slightly below that. But that's really a reflection of the more challenging cost environment. Long term, we have tremendous confidence that we continue to deliver on that 11% to 13% going forward.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

That's helpful. And Linda, I know you're pleased with the market share progress. But if we look at it versus pre-COVID levels, particularly for your Cleaning segment, you're still well below where you were pre-COVID, even here in July. And in fact, if I look at like multipurpose cleaning spray or cleaning wipes, it's only gotten worse versus 2019 for the last couple of months. Is this the reason that your progress on pricing is so slow? Is it to try to sort of reset some price gaps and become more competitive to correct market share? Or is it, in fact, to be like the service levels you mentioned and really, with the need to restore them first before you're able to start to push to pricing with retailers?

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jason. I would say I'm very pleased with our share results given the environment that we have. We're seeing significant increased competition, and we had supply challenges given the unprecedented demand. And we're making, in my view, great progress. So share up in seven of nine businesses. If you look at the latest 13 weeks, we widened our share gap in wipes back to double digits and growing, and that's with significantly new competitive entries in the category. We grew Brita eight share points. We have a very strong start to back-to-school, and that program is working well. Continued strong Kingsford share growth after many quarters in a row of share growth in Kingsford. And you've heard my commitment, and I continue to stand by it. We remain committed to growing share, and we're focused on that in fiscal '22 and headed in absolutely the right direction. And I've also called out places where I'm not as happy. I'm still not happy on where we are in Glad.

We have work to do there. We're focused on the fundamentals and executing. And this really is completely unrelated to pricing, Jason. Pricing really has to do, from a timing perspective, with ensuring that we have the supply and then going back and working with our retail partners to ensure that we could implement the new plans in place. That really is the only reason why we've delayed that. We will, of course, do the very important work you call out on price gaps as we move forward, and that will be important. But given the incredible cost environment we see across the industry, we would expect to see categories move, and we'll move along with them. And then we'll do the work to go back and ensure that we're in those right gaps.

And then the other piece I would add, Jason, is our brands have never been stronger, and that was our goal exiting fiscal year '21, was to be in a stronger position to grow off of this new significantly higher base. If you look at our Household penetration, repeat rates, our consumer value, and as you know, we measure the percentage of our portfolio that is deemed superior by consumers. That's at a record high at 70%. So we feel fully confident in our ability to take pricing with the consumer. And then, of course, they will be met with great marketing spend and innovation to continue to support that demand.

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Thank you. I'll pass it on.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Jason.

Operator

Your next question is from Kevin Grundy of Jefferies.

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Great. Thanks. Good morning. A couple of questions on your outlook. So first, just from an organic sales perspective, you're expecting down 2% to 6%. My question is perhaps for Kevin. What is embedded in that for category growth? Building on some of the prior questions, you sound pleased, for the most part, with some of the market share improvement. So is that reflective generally of what you expect for the categories that you participate in, albeit against some difficult year-over-year comps in the first half of the year?

And then a little bit longer-term, I don't want to belabor this, but maybe I'll just kind of play it back and you tell me if I'm hearing this sort of correctly. The longer-term margin restoration now for this company, Linda, I think to an earlier question, you said you don't see this as a structurally lower margin business. Kevin, I think you kind of alluded to this as probably a multiyear journey, though, to get back. So down materially this year, some improvement in fiscal '23, but probably not getting back to what would be "normal sort of margins for this business until fiscal '24, '25." Maybe you could just confirm that. And then I have a quick follow-up on pricing.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Kevin. Thanks for the question. So on the two. On organic sales growth, our assumption in the minus six to minus two is that we'll see modest category decline as we see demand moderate coming out of the pandemic, and then that will be partially offset by share growth broadly across our portfolio. And so that's embedded in our assumptions for organic sales growth. And then on margin restoration, what I would tell you is we are committed to recovering the cost inflation we're experiencing this year. And as I said, between our cost savings program and the pricing actions we're taking and the phasing of those pricing actions, we think that will extend beyond this fiscal year. And so I see this more as a short-term issue.

But medium to long term, I have confidence in our ability to get back to that mid-gross margin number. I'm going to resist providing a gross margin outlook for fiscal year '23. It's just too early to do that, and there's a lot of moving parts. But embedded in our assumptions right now is we will see a moderation in the commodity environment as we get through the end of this calendar year. And if that commodity environment moderates as we anticipate, plus the pricing actions we're taking, you'll see us start to rebuild margins and then continue into fiscal year '23. And Kevin, I'm sure you've seen this before, but if you go back and you look at some of our previous pricing actions over the last decade, we've done this three other times.

And in all cases, what you saw was a margin decline in the year when the commodity costs spiked. And then we went on to rebuild margins in subsequent years. And most recently, in fiscal year '18, if you recall, we had nine straight quarters of gross margin expansion following our pricing actions. And so my expectation is you'll see something similar where we'll start Q4, and then that will continue on into fiscal year '23.

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. And then the quick follow-up is just I think the comment was you priced on 50% of the portfolio. I suppose maybe some questions on why the delay in doing that. But setting that aside, I guess, and understanding some of the past competitive dynamics, what's the probability of pricing on the remaining 50%, understanding there has to be a cost justification, but difficult to envision many categories where there's not? Talk about the decision there. What's going on? Price gaps versus private label? Game theory versus the competition? Why not moving on the other 50%? Or maybe sort of some further color on expectations there, and then I'll pass it on.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Yes. On the 50%, as we said, I think, in an earlier answer and in our prepared remarks, it means we've announced pricing of about 50% to date. And we are planning additional pricing that we'll speak a little bit more once the details are in market. And really, there were considerations across how we would do that, at what categories and what time, and we really took it category by category. It started with that first principle that I spoke about, which is we had to ensure we were in the right supply position as a starting place before we did that. And as we've brought supply back online, we've opened more and more of our categories to looking at that.

And then, of course, we're doing the really important work to look at each category, look at the dynamics, our position in that, what our innovation and marketing plans look like and balancing that across every one of the categories, because what we're really here to do is maximize the long term on this. And what we want to ensure is that pricing is a part of that way that we restore margins, but also that we don't give up the opportunities we see in front of us to accelerate overall long-term profitable growth. And that's the balance we've gone through in every category. But I think what you're going to see from us as this all nets out is that we're taking a very prudent stance on pricing. It will be a meaningful contributor to gross margin expansion as we move through the year. And as Kevin said, we have all confidence that as we move beyond that, we'll be able to restore margins with pricing as an important part of that.

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Okay. Very good. Thank you both. Good luck.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question is from Lauren Lieberman of Barclays.

Lauren Lieberman -- Barclays -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, good morning. I was hoping if you could just give us a little bit of color to the degree you have it on where you think retailer inventories currently stand, and same for PPB and any research you've done on consumer pantries. I know you've built in the category correction in the first half, so I was just curious where you stood on retail inventory levels, in particular, in PPD.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Lauren. Broadly, as we look across retail inventories, given the good supply progress that we made in Q4, we have largely restored inventories across the bulk of our portfolio. We do have some additional work to do on the broader assortment of a few packs and cleaning and disinfecting here and there and still have some work to do on Kingsford and Food. But largely, I would say, on the retail side, inventories are restored. We'll see how that plays out, of course, as Delta takes on, etc., in how those inventories continue to progress as we go through the first half of the year, but largely in a good spot now. In the Professional business, it is different. So if you look at the front half of fiscal year '21, we had a 70% increase in sales for our Professional Products business. And then we had a big drop off of that in our back half as we've talked about in both sets of results. And what we've uncovered is they're just -- look like there's a lot of inventory in the Professional channel given that front half that we experienced.

And it's not just our inventory, it's actually inventory across all manufacturers. And that network is primarily supplied by distributors. And so having visibility into each point of that supply, we do now, and we realize there's more inventory there. So that means, as we lap that 70% growth in the front half of fiscal '22 and we start to lead down that inventory, it is going to be bumpy in the short term, continue to have strong confidence in our ability to grow PPD. You look at the two-year stack growth, it's 35% sales growth, but I think it is going to be bumpy here as we lap this front half, having the inventory in the system and then lapping an incredibly strong first half of last year.

Lauren Lieberman -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. That's super helpful. And then I had a question about variety. You talked about how obviously during the height of the pandemic, to increase throughput, SKU rationalization and the smaller packs in particular are now bringing some of the value packs back in, in larger sizes. Did you consider using this as sort of an opportunity to intentionally kind of streamline mix? Does everyone in the industry have revenue growth management, right, but ways to actually improve the profitability of what you do choose to merchandise? Because I would have thought that, that could also give you a bit more flexibility and particularly as you're going through this cost environment.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes, absolutely. We've spoken about adding net revenue management more aggressively to our toolbox to deal with margin moving forward, and that is absolutely the plan. So two things. One, as we brought SKUs back into assortment, we did just that, Lauren, we did not bring back the full assortment. We took the opportunity to simplify which helps us in many areas in the cost lines and P&L, but also from a retailer perspective, optimizing their mix and leveraging their store shelf space as well as online mix in the right way. So you will see a smaller assortment. Our goal was to ensure that we had share of assortment, right, but full knowing that distribution points might come down, and we're certainly seeing that play out. But your point moving forward is exactly right. We intend to use more net revenue management tools, which would include things like assortments and getting the mix right to drive margin over time. And all of our business units are developing plans to use that as a bigger lever moving forward.

Lauren Lieberman -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And then, Kevin, if I just can sneak in one more. I did have a question for you on the charge this quarter related to the PPD supplier. I think it would be helpful to better understand what was underlying that because I think if it was -- you discussed paying up for supply, which obviously, given the commitment that the company made to supply these critical products during a very tough time is important. But I'm just not sure -- I'm curious of the charge piece of this, like why that choice would effectively be excluded from results. And I know this is backward-looking, but I think it's just helpful to get that perspective.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Sure, Lauren. Happy to talk about the charge we took. So as we mentioned, we took a $28 million charge in the fourth quarter, and this was related to a PPD supplier. And what this is related to is very early in the pandemic, we saw the unprecedented increase in demand. We invested to help scale this supplier up to help increase their ability to supply product. And so what we've done now is, as they've done that, they've had some challenges more recently and we've made a decision we're going to move away from them. And so what we're doing here is we wrote off the investments we made in that supplier, which was really done to help scale them back when the pandemic first began. And at this point, we've moved our business away to other suppliers. So we think we're in good shape going forward from a production perspective. And then we excluded this as a nonrecurring noncash item in terms of the charge we took in Q4.

Lauren Lieberman -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks so much.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question is from Stephen Powers of Deutsche Bank.

Stephen Powers -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Thanks very much. Linda and maybe Kevin as well. I listened to the discussion on the strategic investments that we started with, and it makes good sense to me logically. I'm not debating the business case at all. But I guess I'm not clear on why we're adjusting out those investments from recurring EPS. And I know we've talked about this move to adjusted earnings last quarter, and I get the rationale to provide investors clarity. But backing out a onetime gain or a charge or impairment, I think that's different than what I'm hearing, which is backing out strategic investments for a pretty long time, five years after years of not doing so.

So I just -- why are these investments different from what -- because I perceive you guys to have been doing proactively for the last several -- any number of years to get you in a position where you are now seems. This seems almost normal course in Evergreen for Clorox. So I guess just more clarity on why these particular investments are unique and different enough for you to consider them nonrecurring and worthy of adjustment. That would just help philosophically on this idea of adjusted earnings.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Steve, this is Kevin. Thanks for the question. And what I'd say about these investments, a couple of thoughts, but one is just in terms of the size of investment. So as we mentioned, $500 million over five years is a big investment for us. The vast majority of that investment will go toward replacing our ERP system. So I think it is pretty typical for large ERP investments, that you typically do only once every 20 years or so to isolate that, so people can understand the investments we're making there versus the underlying performance of the business. And then the other aspect on this investment, and Linda mentioned it, is this investment really is about the future of the company, much more so than what it's going to do to benefit our IGNITE Strategy through 2025. And so we're making some pretty significant investments here, both in replacing our ERP as well as upscaling our digital capabilities that really will start to benefit us as we move beyond 2025, our IGNITE Strategy. So we thought it's appropriate to be able to isolate these and help folks understand our underlying operating performance, which has been pretty volatile as well as the investments we're making really to set the company up for the long term.

Stephen Powers -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Okay, OK. Fair enough. You talked a little bit about this already, but the building blocks, Kevin, from the double-digit declines in the first quarter, to achieving the low end of the long-term algorithm in the back half, can you just talk a little bit more about just, it's for my own benefit, the bridge from 1Q to back half and really where your confidence comes from that, 3% plus will be kind of achievable in the back half and extrapolating forward.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Thanks, Steve. So if you think about the top line, the front half of the year, we said it's going to be much more challenged. A big portion of that is we're lapping 27% growth. So we had record growth in the back half -- or excuse me, the front half of fiscal year '21, we've got to lap. And so as a result of that, we expect our business to be down high-single, low-double digits. I think when we get into the back half of the year and we get back to more normalized comps, and we think we've gotten through the bulk of the demand moderation that we expect in the front half of the year, that gives us more confidence that we're going to be in a more normalized operating environment with a more normalized comparison period, that we should be back in that 3% range or so. Linda and I continue to have tremendous confidence in the opportunity for the extra point of growth. I think a little bit of that is getting hidden by the comps we're going through and the normalization. And so that's really a short-term issue for us that we think plays out over the next six months. But as we look to the back half of the year, and we think we get to a more normalized environment, then I think you'll start to see the benefits we've been talking about that we continue to see going forward, that we think is really a medium- to long-term opportunity.

Stephen Powers -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Great. And if I could squeeze one more, clarifying. In your release, Kevin, there was a line about unfavorable price mix driven by supply improvements that led to the reintroduction of value packs. I'm assuming that that's all mix, but it does say price mix. So if there was a price component to that, could you just talk about that? Or is it -- am I right that it was essentially mix?

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

It was essentially mix in terms of the headwind. There was favorable pricing because we continue to price in International. So we had about one point benefit in price within that price mix as it relates to the International pricing that we're doing. The rest of it was about three points of negative mix. And that mix was, I would say, twofold, Steve, and certainly, as we talked about reintroducing additional SKUs. But the other item that we're seeing is as we now have wipes back in supply, consumers are changing in more convenient forms. So during the height of the pandemic, when we couldn't supply wipes, it increased our bleach sales in less convenient form. And now that we can produce wipes, consumers are moving back in the more convenient form of wipes versus using bleach. Ultimately, that's good for consumers. It gives them a more preferred solution, but that comes at a slightly lower mix for us. So a combination of the conversion within the product families as well as introducing additional SKUs as we get to a more normalized environment.

Stephen Powers -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Understood. Thank you very much.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

Operator

Your next question is from Andrea Teixeira of JPMorgan.

Andrea Teixeira -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Thank you. So Linda, I wanted to follow up on your comments on Glad bag. I was hoping if you can comment on why it's taking so long to recover even after your main competitor has been narrowing the price gaps and leading in prices increasing, I believe, twice already. Is that because you always lag on innovation and competitors, and private label caught up to it, especially during COVID? And following up on an earlier question, you had committed to keep prices intact during the pandemic, but what do you need to see now that your capacity is back on track and vaccinations are up? Are you still thinking you need to narrow those price gaps in particular for the value proposition in that category and in particular, in large count bags for Glad Trash? And then I have a follow-up question on commodities for Kevin, please.

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So on Glad, if you look at Q4, just to set the backdrop, sales were down double digits, but we lapped very strong double-digit growth in Q4 of last year. And we had a two-year stack of Glad on -- of 9% sales growth, and the fiscal year was up low single digits. So overall, from a sales perspective, we were happy with where we landed. Really, it's a share disappointment that I continue to have. We want to grow market share and particularly in a category like Trash. We all see the share trends improving. So we were down about 0.9 points in the latest 52 weeks, down 0.5 points in the latest 13 and down 0.4 in the latest four 5. So definitely trending in the right direction behind improving distribution, getting the fundamentals right, etc.. When it came to pricing, again, we announced pricing back in the fourth quarter, it's being implemented now.

So -- and we took a larger first round than what we saw in the marketplace, to take into account what we saw from the category. And we're evaluating that again if an additional price increase is warranted. But we feel like we've made the right move on Glad. And again, we'll continue to watch that. Innovation continues to work incredibly well in Glad, and we're committed to that program moving forward to differentiate our bags. But what we're really focused on right now is in-market execution, ensuring we have the right distribution at every retailer, implementing pricing flawlessly and then getting back to merchandising, which will be important in this category. So again, this is less of a comment overall in terms of sales, but more around winning in the market and ensuring that we have plans that grow share in the future.

Andrea Teixeira -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

That's fair. And the question for Kevin is really like what are your guidance in bags for gross margin in terms of is that fair to say that guidance in bags, where you are announcing pricing, which is the 50% of the portfolio? And then in terms of resin, are you baking in resin to stay as a spot? Or you're actually using forward curves to basically soften it up? Or in other words, if you get better from here and you take more pricing, there is upside to your guidance.

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Thanks, Andrea, for the question. As it relates to how we thought about commodity forecasts, we have projected out what we believe is a commodity environment over the course of the year. So we are not using a spot rate. And our fundamental assumption is we will see commodity costs continue to increase. In fact, we think, this quarter, we'll see them peak and then begin to moderate in the fall, late calendar year. Commodity costs will start to moderate and continue in the back half of the year. And so this is -- and I think I mentioned on one of the earlier questions, we anticipate about 75% of the commodity cost increases we're projecting for the year, we're going to see in the front half of the year. This is going to be the most extreme comparison period.

And just to give you maybe a little bit of additional information, help dimensionalize it, when you think about resin, we're projecting over a 100% increase in the cost of resin in the front half of the year. So that's the type of environment we're dealing with. And so that's in a difficult environment, to recover that type of margin compression in the time that it's rising, but we do think we're positioned well to recover that over time. But right now, we're projecting for the full year what we think where commodities will land. So any change in that, we'll certainly update you as we learn more.

Andrea Teixeira -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

And if I can squeeze in just one question on inventory at the pantry, is there any anecdotal evidence that you've heard from your -- basically your customers are saying that consumers -- or even your market studies that consumers have built a lot of inventory on bleach, in particular, to your point earlier, that they're using bleach to disinfect, and that is still a dynamic? Or just consumption still remains elevated from your commentary before, it's just a question of having them switch back to branded as you supply more?

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes, we don't have any evidence from consumer studies or from retailers that there's excess pantry inventory across any of our categories. Where there was pantry loading that happened early in the pandemic, for example, on Glad, those things have already reversed themselves out. And what we're just seeing is continued elevation of consumption in the cleaning categories as you articulate, but lower than levels at the height of the pandemic. But really, we don't see this as a pantry-loading issue. I believe that's the end of Q&A. Thanks again, everyone, for joining us. We look forward to speaking with you again on our next call in November. And until then, please take good care.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 80 minutes

Call participants:

Lisah Burhan -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Linda Rendle -- Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Jacobsen -- Executive Vice President And Chief Financial Officer

Dara Mohsenian -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Peter Grom -- UBS -- Analyst

Wendy Nicholson -- Citi -- Analyst

Chris Carey -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Jason English -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Lauren Lieberman -- Barclays -- Analyst

Stephen Powers -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Andrea Teixeira -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

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