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How Procter & Gamble Co. Makes Most of Its Money

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos – May 15, 2017 at 1:21PM

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These are the brands, markets, and customers that deliver most of P&G's revenue each year.

Procter & Gamble (PG 2.04%) controls one of the biggest portfolios of consumer product franchises in the world. Its brands span core industry segments like grooming, baby care, and household cleaning -- covering products that millions of consumers use every day.

Below, we'll take a closer look at where most of this blue-chip giant's profits come from.

A few big brands

P&G competes across 10 product categories that the company rolls into five reportable business segments: beauty, healthcare, fabric care, grooming, and baby, feminine, and family care.

A customer decides between detergents.

Image source: Getty Images.

Fabric care is its single biggest division, responsible for just under one-third of sales and 27% of profits last year. Thanks to the Tide, Ariel, and Downy brands, the company is the global market share leader in laundry, with 30% of the industry under its thumb.

P&G also dominates the grooming segment, where its Gillette franchise delivers an incredible 65% of the global market for razors and blades. That's down from 70% a few years ago, though, thanks to rising competition from value-based brands and online subscription services.

Pampers is P&G's single biggest brand. The diaper franchise was worth $9 billion, or 14%, of revenue last year and is the category leader in the U.S. market. Rival Kimberly-Clark (KMB 2.44%) sits in second place with the Huggies brand.

The key geographic market

Procter & Gamble has operations in 70 countries and its products are sold in over 180 countries and territories. Yet most of its revenue -- 44%, to be exact -- is generated in the United States. That proportion is growing, too. In fiscal 2014, the figure stood at 39%.

The heavy reliance on developed economies helps keep P&G more profitable, but also slower-growing, than peers. Unilever (UL 0.80%) gets 60% of its business from emerging markets in places like Latin America and Southeast Asia. It enjoyed 4% organic sales gains last year, compared to P&G's 1% uptick. Procter & Gamble's 21% operating margin is well ahead of Unilever's 15%, and Kimberly-Clark's 18%.

UL Operating Margin (TTM) Chart

UL Operating Margin (TTM) data by YCharts.

Like its rivals, P&G's global business exposes it to currency swings and to economic disruptions outside of the U.S. In fiscal 2016, for example, exchange rate swings lopped 6 percentage points off reported sales. In the prior year, the company had to take a nearly $2 billion hit in its profits from exiting the Venezuelan market amid economic turmoil.

One major customer

P&G gets 15% of its revenue, or about $10 billion, from Wal-Mart (WMT 0.82%). That's slightly more than Kimberly-Clark, which counted 14% of its business from the world's biggest retailer last year.

The relationship between P&G and Wal-Mart has grown more complicated lately. In response to declining customer traffic, the retailing giant made three strategic changes that have pinched P&G's top and bottom lines. First, it has whittled down its selection of brands on display in a bid to create a more streamlined, cleaner shopping experience for customers. That's left less room on shelves for P&G to show off improvements in its core brands. Wal-Mart has also pressured its partner to lower prices so that it can better compete against rival supermarket chains. And third, the retailer is pouring resources into in-store brands that in some cases directly challenge P&G's dominance in categories like laundry, home care, and paper goods.

The changes appear to be working, as they've helped deliver increasing customer traffic for Wal-Mart over the past year. For P&G, though, they've added urgency to its e-commerce initiative. Last quarter's 30% spike in that channel was a bright spot in an overall weak report. But the gain still left the digital segment at 5% of P&G's overall business. That number will need to rise significantly over the next few years for the company to maintain market share as customers do more of their shopping online.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Kimberly-Clark and Unilever. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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