Kimberly-Clark Posts Softer 1Q Profit, Will Raise Prices

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) suffered a steeper-than-expected 8.9% slide in first-quarter profits as the maker of Kleenex tissues grappled with higher prices.

The Dallas-based company said it earned $350 million, or 86 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $384 million, or 92 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.09 a share, solidly missing consensus calls from analysts for $1.17.

On the other hand, revenue at Kimberly-Clark, which also makes Huggies diapers, increased 4% to $5.03 billion, exceeding the Street’s view of $4.98 billion. North American personal care sales slid 2%, compared with a 1% rise in Europe. Consumer tissue sales in North America were flat, while tissue sales climbed 3% in Europe.

“We continue to execute our global business plan strategies in a difficult environment,” CEO Thomas Falk said in a statement.

Kimberly-Clark announced plans to raise prices in a “number” of its businesses, including North American consumer products.

“The rapid run-up in commodity costs has influenced our near-term profitability, so we are taking aggressive actions in response to the cost environment,” Falk said.

In light of the higher prices, Kimberly-Clark lowered its 2011 non-GAAP EPS forecast to $4.80 to $5.05, compared with $4.90 to $5.05 previously. Yet the company now sees full-year sales rising 4% to 6%, up from 3% to 4% previously. Organic sales are expected to rise 2% to 4%.

Shareholders punished Kimberly-Clark for the earnings miss and new guidance, sending the stock down 3.1% to $64.00 ahead of Monday’s open. The company’s shares finished last week up nearly 5% on the year.