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Colgate (CL) Q1 Earnings Match Estimates, 2016 View Robust

Colgate-Palmolive Co. CL reported strong first-quarter 2016 results, wherein earnings came in flat with expectations and sales topped the same. The quarter also marked the company’s first sales beat in eleven quarters and the achievement of a milestone adjusted gross margin rate of 60%. However, Colgate continued to battle macroeconomic headwinds in various countries and lingering currency woes during the quarter.

Quarterly adjusted earnings of 63 cents a share were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate, but declined 4.5% year over year. On a currency-neutral basis, adjusted earnings rose by double digits.

Including one-time items, the company posted earnings of 59 cents per share, flat with the year-ago quarter.

Deeper Insight

Total sales of $3,762 million decreased 7.5% from the year-ago figure of $4,070 million, but surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,734 million.

The company stated that excluding divested business and the effects of the previously announced deconsolidation of its Venezuelan operations, the benefits of 3.5% growth in unit volume and a 1.5% rise in prices were more than offset by a negative impact of 8% from currency fluctuations.

On an organic basis (excluding foreign exchange, acquisitions, divestitures and the deconsolidated Venezuelan operations), the company recorded sales growth of 5%, mainly driven by a 7.5% sales improvement in emerging markets.

Adjusted gross profit margin was 60%, up 110 basis points (bps), backed by benefits of cost-saving initiatives under the company’s funding-the-growth and 2012 Restructuring Program, along with better pricing. These were partly offset by increased packaging and material expenses stemming from higher currency translation costs.

In the reported quarter, adjusted operating profit of $922 million declined 4% from the year-ago quarter. However, adjusted operating margin improved 90 bps to 24.5% on enhanced gross margin and partly offset by a 10 bps increase in selling, general & administrative expenses as a percentage of revenues.

On a year-to-date basis, Colgate’s market share of manual toothbrushes reached 33.5%. Further, the company’s share in the global toothpaste market continued to grow, reaching 43.8%.

Segment Discussion

North America sales (21% of total sales) rose 1.5% in the reported quarter, driven by a 4% improvement in unit volume, offset by a 2% fall in pricing and negative foreign exchange impact of 0.5%. On an organic basis, sales grew 2%.

Latin America sales (23% of total sales) slumped 22% year over year as the benefits of a 2% improvement in unit volumes and 7% increase in pricing were offset by a negative impact of 19% from foreign exchange. Volume growth contributions were led by Brazil, Mexico and Colombia and excluded the company’s deconsolidated Venezuelan operations. On an organic basis, sales rose 9.5%.

Europe/South Pacific sales (18% of total sales) fell 7.5% year over year due to a negative impact of 3% from lower pricing and 4.5% from foreign currency translation. However, unit volumes for the quarter were flat with last year. Excluding the divested businesses, volumes grew 4% driven by the strength noted in France, Australia and Poland. Europe/South Pacific organic sales inched up 1%.

Asia sales (17% of total sales) dropped 2.5%, attributable to flat pricing and a negative impact of 6.5% from foreign exchange, partly compensated by a 4% jump in volumes. Volume growth was primarily attributed to gains in the Greater China region, India and the Philippines. On an organic basis, sales rose 4%.

Africa/Eurasia sales (6% of total sales) declined 9% year over year due to a negative impact of 17% from foreign currency exchange, partly compensated by an 8% increase in prices. However, volumes in the quarter remained flat with last year. Volume gains in Russia and the Gulf States were somewhat compensated by declines in South Africa and Ukraine. Organic sales for Africa/Eurasia advanced 8%.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition sales (15% of total sales) increased 2.5% year over year. During the quarter, positive impact from 3.5% volume growth and a 1.5% increase in pricing were offset by a 2.5% negative impact from foreign exchange. Unit volume improvements were backed by gains in the U.S. and Western Europe. On an organic basis, sales rose 5% year over year.

Other Financial Details

Colgate ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $1,014 million, total debt of $6,580 million, and shareholders’ equity (excluding non controlling interests) of ($370) million.

Net cash provided by operating activities came in at $614 million for the first quarter of 2016.


Colgate anticipates macroeconomic and currency headwinds to linger throughout 2016. However, even in the face of these challenges, management expects another year of robust organic sales growth on the back of new products across categories and geographical regions.

Consequently, excluding the Venezuelan operations from its 2015 and 2016 results, Colgate envisions 2016 earnings per share to witness double-digit growth (on a currency neutral basis). As of the existing spot rates, management expects gross margin to expand in 2016 and adjusted earnings per share in dollar terms to remain flat with 2015.  

The aforementioned guidance excludes all charges associated with the 2012 Restructuring Program.

Zacks Rank

Colgate currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stock in the same industry are The Clorox Company CLX, Church & Dwight Co. Inc. CHD and Unilever PLC UL, each with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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