Another company specializing in the sale of consumer products has reported earnings this week. Procter & Gamble
The renowned maker of bleach saw a small sales increase of 3.5%, coming in at $1.1 billion for the second quarter. Income from continuing operations increased 13.3% to $136 million. Net profit from continuing operations was $91 million. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.59, a 7.3% gain.
International revenues increased 8.5% thanks to increased product shipments in Argentina and Mexico. Specialty sales, which jumped 8.4%, were benefited by our feline friends; Clorox's cat litter product achieved record shipments. Unfortunately, Glad items were weak -- not as many consumers reached for the famous trash bags this time around. The North American household group segment could use a little marketing muscle; sales declined 2.2% here. "Aggressive competitive activity" was blamed in part for the dismal showing in terms of volume.
Clorox is striving to operate as efficiently as possible during this period of elevated commodity costs. As well as working in a leaner manner, the company was able to expand margins for the quarter by counteracting some of the increased pressures on manufacturing materials with price increases on its products. All this effort paid off in terms of the game with which Wall Street likes to torture public entities, called "Beat Our Estimates." Clorox was expected to earn approximately $0.50 per stub, according to analyst estimates.
In terms of operational cash flow, Clorox saw a decline, which was due to the absence of contributions from discontinued operations and the timing of tax payments. The company netted $122 million in the second quarter vs. $142 million last year. Capital spending was pegged at $37 million. That was enough money to cover the $69 million that was spent on share repurchases, as well as the dividend obligation; although the earnings release didn't mention the amount spent on dividend payments this quarter, a quick look at the most recent 10-Q showed that $44 million was expended in the previous reporting period.
Even with less cash flowing in, I think Clorox's numbers are good ones. They show that it is working its way through inflationary concerns and heavy competition. The company conspicuously displays a belief in itself by continuing to buy back shares, and its long-term debt has fallen year over year, from $2.1 billion to $1.5 billion. Clorox is a good candidate for a dollar-cost-averaging strategy within the environment of a long-term portfolio. Its products should produce dividend-paying cash flows for years to come (recently, Clorox added to its portfolio via a transaction with Colgate-Palmolive), even in the face of competition from WD-40
The Fool has been busy this week covering the consumer products sector:
- Colgate's Winning Smile
- Tupperware Reopened: Fool by Numbers
- Sysco Snacks on Growth
- Procter & Gamble's All-Purpose Quarter: Fool by Numbers
Tupperware is an Income Investor recommendation, and Colgate-Palmolive is an Inside Value pick. You can try out any of our newsletters absolutely free.
Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 10,980 out of 21,411 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.