Clorox sales up after Burt’s Bees acquisition

OAKLAND, Calif. Clorox on Monday reported a second quarter sales boost of 8 percent thanks, in part, to its acquisition of natural personal care company Burt’s Bees, as it trimmed its fiscal 2008 outlook to reflect costs.

“Although the commodities environment remains challenging, we delivered strong top-line growth, and our business is strong across the portfolio. On Nov. 30, we completed the acquisition of Burt’s Bees, which is performing well. In December, we began shipping the Green Works line of natural cleansers, our most exciting launch in years,” stated Don Knauss, chairman and chief executive officer. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm across the organization about these new businesses, the momentum in our base business and our progress in delivering on our Centennial Strategy.” 

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Clorox posted sales growth of 8 percent to $1.19 billion compared with $1.10 billion in the year-ago period. Contributing about 1.5 percentage points each of sales growth: December results from the Burt’s Bees acquisition, the bleach businesses acquired in fiscal 2007 and favorable foreign exchange rates. Volume increased about 6 percent compared with last year, including about 1 percentage point of growth from Burt’s Bees. 

Net earnings totaled $92 million, or 65 cents per diluted share, compared with $96 million, or 62 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Among the items impacting the current quarter: the Burt’s Bees acquisition, which reduced pretax earnings by $5 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, primarily due to costs associated with the acquisition. 

For fiscal year 2008, the company now expects earnings of $3.20 per share to $3.35 per share for the year, from a previous range of $3.33 per share to $3.50 per share. The previous range did not include its Burt’s Bees acquisition. 

In addition, Clorox previously had stated that its acquisition of Burt’s Bees would lower earnings by 10 cents to 15 cents per share, but it now expects it will dampen profit by between 13 cents and 15 cents per share.