P&G Stalled: Time for a New Face in the Corner Office?

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Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) reported second-quarter fiscal 2014 results before markets opened Friday. The consumer products maker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.21 on revenues of $22.28 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.22 on revenues of $22.18 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.20 and $22.33 billion in revenues.

The EPS estimate for the company has dropped two cents in the past three months, just low enough apparently to allow P&G to leap over the very low bar. Currency exchange rates cost the company 3% in revenues.

P&G reiterated its guidance for the full 2014 fiscal year. Organic revenue growth is forecast at 3% to 4%, while all-in growth is reckoned at 1% to 2%, including a 2% negative impact from currency translation effects. Adjusted earnings are expected to rise 5% to 7% for the year and adjusted EPS is expected to rise 7% to 9%.

The company posted full-year 2013 EPS of $4.05, so given the forecast current year EPS should be in a range of about $4.33 to $4.41, compared with a current consensus estimate of $4.27. Fiscal 2013 revenues totaled $84.17 billion, and the forecast, including the negative impact of currency exchange effects, implies 2014 revenues in a range of about $85.01 billion to $85.85 billion, compared with a consensus estimate of $85.81 billion.

The company’s CEO said:

P&G’s second quarter results came in as we expected. We expect strong earnings growth in the second half of the fiscal year driven by solid top-line growth, moderating headwinds from foreign exchange, and productivity savings that build throughout the year.

P&G’s outlook for the rest of 2014 looks a bit shaky. Top-line growth has escaped the company for the first two quarters, so why does it expect a change now? Foreign exchange cost the company $0.11 a share in the second quarter; why does it think that will reverse in its favor? The company did lower its SG&A expenses by 1% in the quarter and raised its operating margin from 20.3% a year ago to 20.4% this year.

The company’s outlook is based on two-thirds wishful thinking and one-third modest improvement. Anyone with new ideas for how P&G might prosper and grow should send the company a résumé. After replacing its former CEO with its former-former CEO last year, the company has performed more poorly than before.

P&G shares were down fractionally in premarket trading Friday, at $78.21 in a 52-week range of $71.75 to $85.82. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $87.00 before the report.