Clorox (NYSE:CLX) makes many famous household products -- Scoop Away cat litter, Kingsford charcoal, Hidden Valley dressing, and, most notably, its flagship laundry bleach. Was the company successful in using these items to generate a prosperous third quarter?

I'd say so. Net sales increased 7% to $1.2 billion. That's a pretty good top-line growth rate for a consumer-products company. Earnings from continuing operations jumped 17% to $0.84 per diluted share.

The double-digit earnings appreciation was driven by volume growth of 8%. The aforementioned cat-litter category helped out, as did performance in Latin America and increases in selling prices. As with other consumer-product businesses, international sales were strong for Clorox -- they rose 16%, aided by 13% volume expansion.

Input costs for materials may be up, but Clorox was nevertheless able to improve its gross margin. It goes to show that you can't keep a good set of brands down. Clorox is able to exploit its name and distribution network to keep its products moving off the shelves. In addition, I believe that the company will continue to find opportunities for growth beyond domestic markets, thus giving conservative investors some exposure to economies around the globe.

Guidance for the fourth quarter won't please analysts -- they were expecting earnings per share to be around $1.15, not to fall somewhere between $1.11 and $1.15. Clorox says that input costs may be a bit more difficult to offset in Q4. This doesn't scare me away from the company. Clorox has a good long-term record, its cash from operations is up, and it'll make it through this inflationary period with flying colors.  

Although Clorox isn't necessarily my absolute favorite investment idea in its space -- I have a soft spot for the big icon in this area, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which just might be an ultimate Rule Maker -- I can say with reasonable confidence that it'll make the patient investor money over time, and can serve as a core-type holding in a diversified portfolio of stocks. Consumer brands such as Kimberly Clark (NYSE:KMB), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD), and WD-40 (NASDAQ:WDFC) all share this trait -- they sell products that people buy every day, and that's why they are such compelling ideas even though they aren't high-flying tech businesses. Hooray for bleach!

Brighten your day with some more Foolishness:

Colgate-Palmolive is a Motley Fool Inside Value  recommendation. Philip Durell is a cheapskate. We mean that in a good way -- he finds companies that are trading at prices below their true value. Check out his current scorecard by trying a 30-day guest pass today.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 8,952 out of 28,309 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.