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Branded consumer packaged goods manufacturer The Procter & Gamble Company (PGFree Procter & Gamble Stock Report) recently reported fiscal third-quarter results (years end June 30th). Sales came in at $20.6 billion, essentially flat compared with the year-earlier figure. We were looking for the top line to be closer to $20.9 billion, and the consensus target was $20.7 billion. Management said that volume increases boosted revenues by about 3%, but this growth was offset by the negative effects of foreign currency exchange. The company also noted that better pricing added roughly 1% to sales, although this benefit was mitigated by unfavorable geographic and product mixes. Adjusted share earnings, meanwhile, were $1.04, a 5% advance compared with the year-earlier mark of $0.99. This was a nickel shy of our aggressive target and mostly in line with Wall Street's expectations.

None of the company's five segments had a particularly great showing in the March quarter, though there were some bright spots. The Fabric Care & Home Care segment notched organic sales growth of 6%, due to market growth in developing regions, higher pricing, and better distribution. Baby, Feminine & Family Care revenues were up 2%, thanks again to market expansion in developing economies. The Beauty segment's top line rose 2%, owing to better hair care, deodorants, and personal cleansing sales. The Grooming and Health Care divisions both reported marginal revenue gains, due to increased competition, weaker mixes, lower cold and flu incidents, etc.

Management was optimistic about P&G's prospects, saying that the company remains on pace to meet its goals of 3%-4% organic sales growth and 3%-5% adjusted share-earnings gains. The company continues to operate in a slow-growth, highly competitive environment, and it has turned its attention to product innovation and margin-improvement initiatives. This ought to help boost shareholder returns over time. Meanwhile, PG investors can continue to count on dividends and stock repurchases. (The company recently bought back $1.5 billion worth of its shares, and it boosted the quarterly distribution by 7%, bringing the yield to over 3%.)

Wall Street was less than enthused with P&G's third-quarter earnings report, and PG stock was off slightly in the early hours following the announcement. This blue chip still remains an excellent choice for conservative, buy-and-hold investors, as the P/E multiple is reasonable and the yield is good.

About The Company: The Procter & Gamble Company makes detergents, soaps, toiletries, foods, paper, & industrial products. Brands include: Always, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Pantene, Wella, Actonel, Dawn, Downy, Tide, Bounty, Charmin, Pampers, Iams, Gillette, MACH3, Braun, and Duracell. Acquired Gillette in October, 2005, and divested Folgers in June, 2009. U.S. sales accounted to 39% of total revenues in fiscal 2013, while Wal-Mart Stores (WMTFree Wal-Mart Stock Report) accounted for 14%.

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.