Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL), one of the leading global consumer product manufacturers, is scheduled to report its first-quarter 2012 financial results on Thursday, April 26, 2012, before the market opens. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is earnings of $1.24 a share. For the quarter under review, revenue is expected to be $4,168 million, according to the Zacks Consensus Estimate.
Colgate has consistently beaten or met the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the recent past. A flashback of the trailing four quarters points to an average earnings surprise of 0.8%, with the company beating the Zacks estimate in the last quarter and meeting estimates in the prior three quarters.
Fourth-Quarter 2011, a synopsis
Colgate-Palmolive posted fourth-quarter 2011 adjusted earnings of $1.30 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Adjusted earnings also surpassed the prior-year quarter level of $1.24 per share by approximately 5%.
Global net sales increased nearly 5% year over year to $4,172 million based on a 3% surge in pricing and 4% upside in global unit volume, partially offset by a 2% negative impact from foreign exchange. On an organic basis (excluding foreign exchange, acquisitions and divestitures), sales increased 6% in the quarter. Global net sales, however, missed the Zacks Consensus Revenue Estimate of $4,215 million.
Zacks Consensus
The analyst covered by Zacks expects Colgate-Palmolive to post first-quarter 2012 earnings of $1.24 a share, higher than $1.16 delivered in the prior-year quarter. Currently, the Zacks Consensus earnings estimate ranges between $1.17 and $1.29 a share.
Agreement of Estimate
For the first quarter of fiscal 2012, of the 19 analysts covering the stock, 4 analysts revised their estimates upwards, while 2 analysts revised in the opposite direction in the last 30 days. Similarly, for fiscal 2012, 4 out of 21 analysts made positive revisions while 2 analysts made negative revisions in the last 30 days.
In the last 7 days, 2 analysts revised their estimates in the positive direction for the first quarter and 1 analyst moved in the opposite direction. For fiscal 2012, 1 analyst each moved their estimates upwards and downwards in the last 7 days.
Magnitude of Estimate Revisions
Despite positive and negative estimate revision by analysts in the last 7 and 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimates remained stagnant at $1.24 for the first quarter and $5.39 per share for fiscal 2012.
Our View
Looking ahead, Colgate anticipates a growth of 4% - 7% in global unit volume and gross margin expansion of 75 to 125 basis points for fiscal 2012. The company expects to combat the situation of higher material costs and promotional investments by emphasizing on innovations for developing new products regionally while boosting its top line.
Additionally, we believe Colgate-Palmolive’s continued focus on innovation and development of new products will facilitate it in enhancing its customer base while increasing market share. Moreover, the company is focusing on acquiring businesses, which have the potential to generate higher top-line growth and margin. We believe the company’s recent acquisition and divestment transactions will provide a cushion to its bottom line.
However, Colgate-Palmolive operates in an intensely competitive environment. The resurgence of archrival Procter & Gamble Company (PG) has signaled new challenges. Global competitive conditions have also intensified, and Colgate is facing strong competition in China, Russia, India, Hong Kong, Brazil and Mexico.
Currently, Colgate-Palmolive maintains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold recommendation. Our long-term recommendation on the stock remains Neutral.


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