P&G profits rise despite hit from Middle East tensions


Procter & Gamble reported higher profits Friday, citing strong demand in the United States and many European markets that offset weakness elsewhere due to Middle East tensions and a lackluster performance in China.

P&G -- the consumer products giant that makes Tide detergent, Bounty paper towel and Gillette razors, among many others -- had flat volume in the just-completed quarter but a three percent rise in price that helped produce a slight increase in overall sales.

Chief Financial Officer Andre Schulten described consumption as "very strong" in the United States and in leading European markets.

But he said sales in the Middle East were pressured by conflict in the region, while China sales were down 10 percent, excluding the effect of currency changes and acquisition.

Despite price hikes over the last few years, "consumers are not trading down within the US," he said, arguing that shoppers stick with known products because of reliability.

Profits in the quarter rose 11 percent to $3.8 billion, while revenues increased one percent to $20.2 billion.

In China, Schulten noted "weak underlying market conditions" as well as lagging sales of SK-II premium skin care, which has been affected by anti-Japan sentiment.

Schulten said the company has nevertheless seen some improvement in the world's second biggest economy, but that it will take another quarter or two for sales to return to growth.

Volume trends in several markets including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey "have remained soft since the start of the heightened tensions in the Middle East," Schulten said.

Shares of P&G were down 0.5 percent around midday.



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