Kimberly-Clark Corp posted a smaller-than-expected rise in adjusted quarterly profit on Tuesday as cost cuts and a lower share count were not enough to help the maker of Kleenex tissues overcome soft demand in businesses such as North American diapers and some higher costs.
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The company, which makes Huggies diapers and Cottonelle toilet paper, earned $401 million, or $1.01 per share, in the fourth quarter, down from $492 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings, which exclude costs for the company's pulp and tissue restructuring, rose 7 percent to $1.28 per share. Analysts, on average, expected $1.30 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales rose 2 percent to nearly $5.18 billion.
Volume in the North American diapers and training pants business has now fallen for five consecutive quarters, hurt by a lower birth rate and competition from Procter & Gamble Co's Pampers and store brands.
Kimberly-Clark forecast 2012 adjusted earnings of $5.00 to $5.15 per share and said it plans to spend at least $2 billion to pay dividends and repurchases shares. The company expects to raise its dividend at a mid-single digit rate as of April.