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.
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.
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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.