P&G to Split Off Duracell Battery Business

Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE:PG) said it would exit its Duracell battery business, likely through a splitoff into a separate company, as it looks to focus on faster-growing brands.

P&G, which also reported a slight fall in quarterly sales, said a stronger dollar would significantly hurt revenue and earnings in the current quarter.

The world's No. 1 household products maker said in August it could sell about half of its slow-growing brands in the next two years and cut jobs to revive sales growth and save costs.

Duracell was widely considered to be one of the largest assets that P&G was likely to divest.

P&G does not break out Duracell numbers, but the world's No.1 battery business is estimated to earn about $500 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The household products maker also said on Friday that it had agreed to sell its interest in a China-based battery joint venture for an undisclosed amount.

P&G said in September that it would sell the last of its pet food business to Spectrum Brands Holdings <SPB.N> for an undisclosed amount.

Under a splitoff, expected in the second half of 2015, P&G shareholders will be able to exchange some, none or all of their shares for shares of Duracell.

P&G said it expected the percentage growth in its net sales to be little changed or rise by a low single digit, including a 2 percentage point negative impact from a strong dollar.

The company had earlier said it expected net sales percentage growth to be in a low single-digit, including a 1 percentage point negative impact from foreign exchange.

Net income attributable to P&G fell to $1.99 billion, or 69 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30 from $3.03 billion, or $1.04 per share, a year earlier.

Core earnings were $1.07 per share, in line with the average analyst estimate according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The maker of Pampers diapers and Tide detergent said net sales fell to $20.79 billion from $20.83 billion.

P&G shares were up 2 percent in premarket trading. The stock closed at $83.23 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore and Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Kirti Pandey)