P&G to Cut More Jobs Through 2016


Procter & Gamble plans to trim more non-manufacturing jobs through 2016, on top of a 10 percent reduction target it should meet this year, as the largest household-products maker tries to reinvigorate what has become a sluggish organization.

P&G also said it may increase stock repurchases to $6 billion from $4 billion.

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P&G remains on track to eliminate about 5,700 non-manufacturing jobs by the end of the current fiscal year that will end in June. It now plans to reduce another 2 percent to 4 percent of its non-manufacturing jobs each year during fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2016.

"These are all continued steps in the right direction, but we wish they had taken bolder ones like even more aggressive cost-cutting," said Sanford Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj, who was attending P&G's bi-annual analyst meeting in Cincinnati on Thursday.

Shares of P&G, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, were down about 44 cents at $66.08 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The maker of Tide detergent and Pampers diapers has been working for months to improve its structure and cut costs, and has admitted that in recent years its innovation has not been as strong as successes from years past, such as Swiffer and Crest Whitestrips.

Some industry watchers have suggested that P&G consider splitting itself up, separating its beauty businesses from mainstays such as diapers, paper goods and detergent. However, P&G contends that its scale, including more than two dozen brands that each generate more than $1 billion in annual sales, is an advantage.

During the meeting, P&G highlighted some success it has had in emerging markets, such as seeing the Indian diaper category increase fivefold since it started selling Pampers there five years ago. At the same time, it is promoting lower-priced items, including its Gain and Era detergents, to attract cost-conscious U.S. shoppers it has lost to competitors such as Church & Dwight Co Inc.

P&G also maintained the forecasts for sales and earnings for the current quarter and the fiscal year it had given in late October.

The company said it expects to deliver annual improvement of 5 percent in its manufacturing operations, measured by the number of cases of products produced per person, per year.

Competitors such as Kimberly-Clark Corp and Colgate-Palmolive Co are also trimming their ranks as the industry contends with weak economic conditions in major markets such as the United States and Western Europe.

P&G has been under pressure to show improvement following the investment of activist investor William Ackman, who may want to see P&G Chairman and Chief Executive Bob McDonald pushed out of his job. Even before Ackman's involvement, P&G was proceeding with a $10 billion restructuring and other plans to strengthen operations.

On Wednesday, Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management disclosed that it raised its combined stake in P&G by 27.4 percent to 27.9 million shares as of Sept. 30, while Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reduced its holdings 11.4 percent to 52.79 million shares.

Thursday's outlook comes weeks after a better-than-expected quarterly report drove P&G shares to their highest level in four years.

P&G stood by the forecasts that it gave in late October. At that time, P&G said it still expected to post core earnings per share of $3.80 to $4 this fiscal year. For the current second quarter, P&G forecast core earnings of $1.07 to $1.13 per share, with organic sales up 1 percent to 3 percent.