Procter & Gamble (PG -0.33%) shares are likely to see big swings in the next week, but there's no telling which direction they will move. The consumer staples giant announces fiscal fourth quarter earnings results in a few days, and expectations are high heading into that report.
P&G has been winning market share in a quickly growing industry. Its profitability has held up well, too, as consumers gravitate toward premium branded products like detergents, diapers, and toothpaste.
The earnings update will show whether P&G is still outgrowing rivals like Kimberly Clark (KMB -0.62%). But the bigger questions revolve around profit margin and management's outlook for the new fiscal year ahead.
With that big picture in mind, let's review the key trends to watch in the report slated for Friday, July 29.
The main reason P&G's stock is beating the market in 2022 can be boiled down to growth. The company raised its revenue outlook last quarter (from a range of 4% to 5% to a range of 6% to 7%) after organic sales jumped 10%. Despite inflation, consumers continue to flock toward its premium products in franchises such as Tide, Bounty, and Pampers, as illustrated by the double-digit sales spike.
P&G's sales look just as good when compared to peers like Kimberly Clark, although that growth gap might shrink next week thanks to a rebound in Kimberly Clark's enterprise division. That segment was pressured by office closures in earlier phases of the pandemic when social distancing was widespread. But it will rebound as people return to in-person work environments. Investors will be judging P&G's sales trends against the figures that Kimberly Clark reports a few days earlier. The segment grew by 5% last quarter and was a drag on overall sales gains. Look for it to rebound in Q2.
Costs and cash
The outlook isn't as bright on earnings. P&G's efficient global supply chain is struggling to offset soaring inflation, which is impacting everything from wages to transportation costs. As illustrated in the chart below, operating profit margin held steady last quarter despite a big decline in gross profit.
This upcoming report will clarify whether P&G can maintain its industry-leading profitability through a mix of higher prices and increased cost-cutting. Investors will also learn whether CEO Jon Moeller and his team still see room to hike those prices without sacrificing sales volumes. Ideally, P&G can show a balance between these two growth avenues on Friday.
There are big questions surrounding P&G's new outlook for fiscal 2023. Heading into the report, most investors who follow the stock are looking for sales gains to slow but still remain in positive territory. P&G will likely close out fiscal 2022 with organic growth of nearly 7%, on top of a strong showing a year earlier. The new fiscal year might feature growth at roughly half of that rate, with earnings expanding at an even slower pace.
Those results would still translate into solid returns for the business, which has dramatically expanded its selling footprint since the start of the pandemic. P&G is also delivering impressive cash returns through stock buybacks and a dividend that has been rising for decades.
Investors can expect those returns to continue into 2023 even if the selling environment worsens due to slowing economic growth. That stability is why this dividend stock is seen as a good choice for investors looking for recession-resistant businesses. It's yet another reason to like this stock today, despite the rocky operating environment heading into the second half of 2022.