Clorox (NYSE:CLX), the maker of some of the most recognized consumer brand name products, is benefiting from the surge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its cleaning and disinfecting items are in high demand in this coronavirus-induced pandemic. In fact, several of its products, including Pine-Sol, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, and Clorox Wet Mopping Cloths, have received approval for COVID-19 kill claims from the Environmental Protection Agency. The company expects to report solid results when it releases its first quarter earnings for fiscal 2021 on Nov. 2. Here are three important metrics investors should focus on in its Q1 report.

A person wearing gloves cleaning a surface with a spray bottle and a wash rag.

Sales are surging for Clorox. Image source: Getty Images.

COVID-19 is increasing sales for Clorox 

Investors will first want to keep an eye on the company's overall revenue growth. The top line increased 22% year over year in the most recent quarter. With people spending more time at home, the company's cleaning and disinfecting products are in big demand in order to help slow the coronavirus spread. Clorox is forecasting elevated demand for its products to continue for at least the first half of its fiscal year 2021. Indeed, coronavirus cases are surging in several parts of the world, which could lead to elevated sales for the foreseeable future.

Second, are the increasing sales flowing through to shareholders? While revenue increased 22% in the most recent quarter, diluted earnings per share increased 28%. The company has increased its marketing spend, and that should increase customer loyalty. If this turns out to be successful, it should boost sales in the long run -- a considerable accomplishment for a company that's expected to grow revenue in the low to mid-single digits. 

Along those lines, CEO Kevin Jacobsen said in a press release:

"Our focus now is building on this momentum, investing aggressively in brand-building and category growth as well as in production capacity to meet heightened demand. We feel confident these investments will allow us to capitalize on new opportunities, supporting our ambition to accelerate profitable growth and generate long-term shareholder value."

Finally, investors will want to know how Clorox's long-term strategy, launched in October 2019 called IGNITE, is faring. For those unaware, the IGNITE strategy is designed to "accelerate innovation in key areas to drive growth and deliver value for both shareholders and society". The initiative rests on four strategic choices: Fuel Growth, Innovate Experiences, Reimagine Work, and Evolve the Portfolio. As part of IGNITE, the company's financial goals include sales growth, operating margin expansion, and generating annual free cash flow at the rate of 12% of sales.

What it could mean for investors 

Analysts on Wall Street expect Clorox to report revenue of $1.76 billion, which would be an increase of 16.8% from the prior year. Additionally, earnings per share is expected to come in at $2.33, which signifies a 46.5% growth.

The company is enjoying surging demand while it lasts. However, investors need to keep in mind that double-digit growth is not in the cards for Clorox in the long run. Still, Clorox does not need to achieve high-level growth to be a quality consumer staple stock that shareholders can rely on for long-term gains in value. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.