What happened

Consumer products giant Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) beat the market over the first half of 2017, with shares up 13%, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

CL Chart

Data through first six months of the year. CL data by YCharts.

The rally pushed shares to all-time highs in early June, although the stock has declined slightly since then.

So what

Colgate's latest operating results were mixed. Organic sales growth failed to meet management's target due to a sharp slowdown in the core U.S. market. The expansion pace was below 1%, in fact, thanks entirely to gains in emerging markets, where revenue grew by 3%. "Clearly the first quarter was challenging," CEO Ian Cook said in an April press release.

A mom and daughter brushing teeth.

Image source: Getty Images.

The company managed a few impressive wins so far this year, though. Cost cuts and increased prices helped push operating margin to 23.5% of sales in the first quarter, for example. Colgate is a leader in its industry on this metric, with most other global giants struggling to reach even 20% profitability. That's mostly due to the company's dominant position in the global toothpaste industry, where its market share stands at just below 44%.

Now what

Cook and his team are boosting advertising spending in a bid to spark faster growth through the rest of 2017. Yet they believe a slowing industry will keep a lid on gains this year. Their latest forecast calls for organic sales growth to come in below their target range of between 4% and 7%.

That projection implies a roughly steady market share position. But, along with improving profitability and higher cash flow, that's a solid overall performance for the industry leader. Look for potential updates to those full-year forecasts when Colgate-Palmolive posts its fiscal second-quarter results on July 21.

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