Shares of consumer products manufacturer Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) rose slightly in early morning trading today, following the announcement that it expects strong volume growth to boost results in Q1. Also noteworthy: the board approved a 2-for-1 stock split and an increase in its dividend.

We can deal with the stock split quickly and easily. While some investors may purchase the company's shares as a result, we hope they don't. Stock splitting isn't an event of any long-term meaning, but it's a common move for companies that are seeing their businesses perform well.

More interesting to investors are the reasons behind Procter & Gamble's increased earnings expectations. Sales growth is seen at an impressive 20%, with a good portion attributed to organic and domestic growth. Foreign exchange rate impacts are seen kicking in 3% to 4%, while acquisitions -- mostly the purchase of a controlling stake in German hair-care giant Wella -- are responsible for 7% to 9% of the top-line growth number.

The dividend increase, meanwhile, is a natural byproduct of a company that continues to grow sales and profits -- as well as churn out massive and growing free cash flow well in excess of its capital requirements. It's difficult to ask much more of a big company, which continues to explore new products, product lines, acquisitions, markets, and ways to control costs. For example, SG&A as a percentage of sales, at 30% in 2003, was down significantly from 2002 levels.

All this is especially true given that competitors like Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) and Colgate Palmolive (NYSE:CL) are performing reasonably well, though the latter has been challenged by Procter & Gamble domestically.

All three companies have stretched to keep pace with the S&P 500 over the last 12 months -- only Kimberly-Clark has beaten it -- but the marketplace seems nevertheless supportive of carefully targeted, high-end consumer products that can really boost profits for companies that execute, as Procter & Gamble has of late.

Talk about the company's newly licensed male teen grooming line on our Procter & Gamble discussion board.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story. He can be reached via email.