It was a report good enough to bring a smile to any investor's face. Toothpaste and consumer-goods manufacturer Colgate-Palmolive
For example, toothpaste continued to be a brand leader, with market share rising 50 basis points year over year to 37.3%. That's three share points ahead of competitor Procter & Gamble
Historically, the North American market has been this Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation's main sales driver, usually comprising one-fourth of the total oral, personal, and home care segment. However, that's been declining lately; in the current quarter, Latin America surpassed North America, generating 25% of total company sales (including its pet nutrition segment) on a 14% increase in revenues. Europe followed, providing another 24%, while North America represented 21% of the total. (Want a closer look? We've got the raw numbers.)
The shift away from North America as Colgate's primary revenue source shows the company's success in pursuing international expansion. It owns 73.8% of the toothpaste market in Latin America and nearly 38% of the toothbrush market. Continuing to focus on this core segment, alongside plans for increased marketing of its products, makes the sale of its bleach business to Clorox
Excluding those restructuring charges, along with gains from the sale of the Canadian bleach business, Colgate-Palmolive earned $0.80 per share, topping analyst expectations. The costs related to the reorganization exceeded $68 million, and the company also had $8.8 million in stock-option-related expenses. Those costs battered gross margins, but if excluded, those margins would have hit a record high 56.6%. That performance followed an impressive 100-basis-point margin improvement last year, which suggests a very healthy, better-positioned company.
Investors need to be careful about excluding charges from results when determining "real" earnings. A "one-time charge" in one instance can become a part of a business's ongoing operations if it continually repeats itself. Colgate is in the midst of a multiyear restructuring plan, and although it's getting down to a core business now, continually spinning off divisions, selling assets, or making acquisitions could lead investors to conclude the company makes it a habit of these types of deals. We're not there yet, but still, Colgate's reorganization needs to have an ultimate goal in mind.
Colgate is commanding higher prices for its products, increasing advertising of those products, and gaining market share as a result. In short, there's no reason why it shouldn't be able to make good on its increased guidance for 2007.
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