Ah, Church & Dwight
All joking aside, Church & Dwight's recent quarter was strong. On one of the market's down days this week, I noticed it was one of the few stocks that increased. Its fourth-quarter profit rose 33% to $31.7 million, or $0.46 per share. Sales increased 10% to $579.7 million.
Even better, Church & Dwight gave guidance for 13% earnings growth in 2008, despite the rising expense of commodities and the slowing economy.
Some of the stocks that jump to mind as "recession proof" because of their stables of "must-have" consumer brands include Procter & Gamble
One big product is Arm & Hammer baking soda. Personally, I think baking soda is a miracle substance, seeing how you can bake with it, scrub with it, brush your teeth with it, put out grease or electrical fires with it, and deodorize your fridge with it. And of course, Church & Dwight has churned out a halo of products using the Arm & Hammer angle, such as deodorant, toothpaste, and cat litter.
Other brands include Nair, Pepsodent, First Response home pregnancy tests, and last but not least, Trojan condoms. Now you see why I'd say this consumer brands company has an edge: Trojan is the premier name in condoms, and I guess you could argue that (ahem) never goes out of fashion.
Over the past year, Church & Dwight has doubled the cash on its balance sheet to $249.8 million, and while it does have $707 million in debt, it has pared it by 11%. Church & Dwight also generates solid free cash flow, generating just shy of $200 million in FCF, a 44% increase over last year.
The company is trading at 18 times forward earnings, which doesn't greatly outpace rivals P&G and Colgate. Although I can see why bargain-minded investors might want to wait for temporary dips before buying in, at the very least it makes a great stock for watch lists.
How has Church & Dwight performed in the past?
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