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solzberg in Gainers & Losers,

Clorox's stock to continue to rebound

I remain upbeat about the shares of Clorox, a US producer and marketer of non-durable household products. Recently, the company issued decent financials for its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter ended June 30. Revenues increased 3% y-o-y to $1.600 bn and surpassed consensus estimate of $1.587 bn. The improvement was driven by 7% volume growth, higher pricing at the International business and benefits from RenewLife (acquired in May 2016), which was somewhat negated by over 2% impact from unfavorable currency effects. On a currency-neutral basis, revenues increased 5%. However, Clorox’s gross margin contracted 20 basis points to 45.4% in the quarter, as greater manufacturing and logistics expenses; one-time integration expenses related to the RenewLife buyout; increased promotional costs more than offset the gains from efficient cost savings, lower commodity costs and improved pricing. Adjusted earnings per share declined 12.5% to $1.26 and missed analysts’ average projection by a couple of cents. For full fiscal year 2016, Clorox’s earnings jumped 8% to $4.92 per share, while revenues of $5.761 bn were up 2%.

Clorox ended the fiscal year with cash and cash equivalents of $401 mn and long-term debt of $1.797 bn. During the year, the company generated $768 mn of operating cash flow. In May, Clorox raised its quarterly dividend by 4% to 80 cents per share, which offers a healthy annualized dividend yield of around 2.4%.

Clorox’s management looks with optimism into the new fiscal year. The company expects fiscal 2017 sales growth in a range of 2-4%, including a positive impact from the RenewLife buyout. Further, EBIT margin is estimated to expand by 25-50 basis points, mainly backed by lower selling and administrative costs. Adjusted earnings per share are expected in a band of $5.13-5.28.

Clorox’s shares have found support near $130 level. I expect the stock to continue to rebound, with medium-term target at $140.