Colgate comparable profit falls on costs

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Colgate-Palmolive Co <CL.N> posted a drop in first-quarter profit before one-time items on Thursday as higher materials costs cut into margins.

The company earned $576 million, or $1.16 a share, compared with $357 million, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier. But the year-earlier profit was hit by a one-time charge of 52 cents a share from hyperinflation accounting in Venezuela.

Excluding the charge, earnings fell 8 percent in this year's first quarter, the company said.

Colgate, which has raised prices on bars of soap and other goods, said sales rose 4.5 percent to $4 billion.

The company previously forecast a mid-single-digit percentage rise in earnings per share for 2011 and stood by that target on Thursday.

Colgate, along with rivals such as Procter & Gamble Co <PG.N>, is banking on growth in countries such as China and India as growth in developed markets such as the United States and Western Europe has stagnated.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl and Brad Dorfman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)