Our Fool by Numbers will give you all the data you need on last week's fourth-quarter report from Kimberly-Clark
To me, Kimberly-Clark remains a strong contender for a long-term portfolio. It might not be a revenue-growth juggernaut -- a 7.4% sales improvement doesn't scream tech-stock-during-the-bubble to anyone. But a lot of those vanished tech entities wish they could be claiming any kind of sales growth these days, let alone 7.4%. The consumer-products company also bested the roughly 5% top-line improvement achieved during its previous quarter.
The quarterly EPS growth came in just shy of 33%, including a gain on the sale of a business related to an equity affiliate. Net cash from operations for the year increased a decent 11.6%, but capital expenditures jumped more than three times that amount, forcing free cash flow to remain flat for the year. That might be disappointing, but Kimberly-Clark still has enough cash flow to meet its dividend requirements.
The guidance for fiscal 2007 won't make any investor jump for joy -- 3%-5% growth in the top line and 5%-7% growth in adjusted operating profit aren't wildly exciting -- but there are a few good takeaways here. Kimberly-Clark expects that share repurchases will continue, a generally positive financial move that brings down the outstanding share count, helping to make the remaining shares more valuable. Pending board approval, the dividend will likely be raised by a high single-digit percentage. And cost savings from efficiency programs are expected to mitigate inflationary pressures.
Both the gross and operating margins declined, but net margin rose an impressive 190 basis points. Still, Kimberly-Clark will have to improve margins on the higher lines, and it won't be alone in its sector in toiling to keep margins intact. Kimberly-Clark competitors such as Playtex
Kimberly-Clark creates cash-flow opportunities for itself with its popular product portfolio; we've all used Kleenex tissues and Scott paper items, and parents everywhere will vouch for the long-term prospects of Huggies diapers. The company also supplies the vibrant healthcare industry. Management still wants to prune shares from the float and increase its dividend, displaying confidence in the company's underlying fundamentals. At a yield approaching 3%, the stock remains an interesting investment idea.
Get more Foolish information on Kimberly-Clark and other consumer-products concerns:
- Kimberly-Clark Won't Need Tissues This Time: Fool by Numbers
- Use the FORCE, Kimberly-Clark
- Fool on the Street: P&G Still Going Strong
- Colgate Lightens Its Load
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 6,705 out of 20,943 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.