Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), the Dow component whose products play a role in the day of many a consumer's life, reported earnings last week. After you have a look at the numbers, you'll agree that the company has earned its reputation as a blue chip.

Net revenues increased 10% to come in at $14.3 billion for the January-March quarter. Earnings per diluted share were $0.63, a 15% year-over-year improvement. And organic volume growth, a figure that excludes contributions from acquisitions and sales of assets, was 7%. These three metrics show a consumer-products company that's leveraging its brand equity to good advantage. Add in a bit of guidance that is rosier than before -- the company now expects its fiscal-year earnings to be in the range of $2.64-$2.65 per share, as opposed to the previous guidance of $2.61-$2.64 -- and you've got a group of happy shareholders.

Of course, if there's one thing that really gets a Fool going, it's free cash flow. And here we see something to be less enthusiastic about. This past quarter's free-cash generation was equal to $2.17 billion as opposed to $2.46 billion a year ago. The drop seems to be due to a higher inventory level. That's still a lot of cash, however, and in my view, the decreased position does not detract from this company's long-term prospects as a worthwhile investment. P&G has a history of committed dividend payouts and recently announced an appreciation in the per-share payout of 12%, to $0.28. It also has a record of solid financial performance, as seen in the data posted on the company's website.

The big challenge now for P&G is its acquisition of Gillette (NYSE:G). It should be a harmonious marriage, and with Warren Buffett praising the nuptials, who's to argue? OK, brief bit of cliched sycophancy aside, I throw my hat into the camp that believes the union is based on sound logic. Gillette's innovations will now have a powerhouse marketer behind them, and P&G has access to new revenues in categories that Gillette knows its way around: batteries and shaving systems. I like it.

Here's the secret behind successful investing in P&G -- patiently do your dollar cost averaging over time and resist trading the inevitable sideways motions. If you start to get bored with that strategy, just don your Fool's cap and do a mirthful little jig in front of a mirror. Anything that will allow you to sock this one away and hold it in a disciplined manner is perfectly justified. Even though powerful competitors like Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) and private-label brands should never be underestimated, P&G's future seems secure.

Colgate-Palmolive is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. You can take a free, 30-day trial today to learn more.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.