P&G shares tumble after lackluster earnings

New York (AFP) –


Wall Street frowned on earnings Friday from Procter & Gamble that showed continued sluggishness in overall sales and another drop in grooming due to anemic US demand for shaving products.

The earnings, the first since the consumer products giant claimed a narrow win over activist Nelson Peltz in a shareholder vote earlier this month, are "unlikely to silence dissenters," said Morningstar analyst Erin Lash.

Net income for the fiscal first quarter of 2018 came in at $2.9 billion, up 5.1 percent from the year-ago period.

Sales edged up 0.8 percent to $16.7 billion.

Results were pressured by a string of hurricanes in the US and Puerto Rico and an earthquake in Mexico, which dented sales in those regions and lifted prices of some commodities used in P&G products.

Leading P&G brands include Crest toothpaste, Bounty paper towels and Oil of Olay soap.

Strong categories included beauty -- which was boosted by strong growth in Chinese premium skin products and health care -- where the sale of electric toothbrushes was again a bright spot.

But P&G saw no relief from the continued slump in shaving, where competition from newer US e-commerce brands has bruised the performance of Procter's Gillette brand. Sales in grooming sank five percent from the year-ago period.

P&G has slashed prices on Gillette products by an average of 12 percent in an effort to coax more sales. Chief financial officer Jon Moeller told analysts it was too soon to see results from the investment but that shaving in the US is "operating as we expected it would."

The weakness in Gillette was among the trouble spots highlighted in a campaign by activist shareholder Peltz of Trian Fund Management in which Procter has claimed a narrow victory after a hard-fought and costly campaign.

Peltz still considers the vote too close to call and said he will wait until final results are certified by an independent inspector.

Goldman Sachs characterized the results as disappointing overall, pointing to a weaker-than-expected gross profit margin and downcast commentary from chief executive David Taylor on "decelerating" market conditions.

"All-in, we expect results to be met with disappointment and would be surprised if the stock does not trade-off," Goldman said.

P&G shares tumbled 4.0 percent in afternoon trading to $87.98.