Shares of consumer products manufacturer Procter & Gamble
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
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.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story. He can be reached via email.