P&G Beats Estimates, Issues Cautious View

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) beat the Street with a 15% jump in fiscal fourth-quarter profits, but the maker of Crest toothpaste and Duracell batteries revealed a tepid earnings forecast amid the tough economy.

The Cincinnati-based consumer-products heavyweight said it earned $2.51 billion, or 84 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $2.19 billion, or 71 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of 82 cents.

P&Gs revenue jumped 10% to $20.86 billion, narrowly topping the Streets view of $20.63 billion. Organic sales increased 5% amid higher prices, while volumes were up just 3%.

We delivered organic sales growth of five percent and earnings per share growth of 18 percent in a challenging environment, driven by our ongoing commitment to make a difference in the everyday lives of the worlds consumers, CEO Bob McDonald said in a statement.

However, the blue-chip company forecast fiscal first-quarter sales rising 2% to 4%, translating to EPS of just $1.00 to $1.04. Analysts had anticipated more robust EPS of $1.14.

P&G, which also makes Pringles potato chips and Bounty paper towels, was more bullish on the full year, projecting EPS of $4.17 to $4.33 on a 5% to 9% rise in sales. Wall Street was looking for EPS of just $3.93.

During the companys conference call, McDonald also said P&G can meet its financial goals without having to acquire rival Clorox (NYSE:CLX), which was effectively put into play when activist investor Carl Icahn made a $10.66 billion buyout offer last month that has since been rejected.

Shares of P&G inched up 0.24% to $59.72 Friday morning, putting them on track to trim their 7% 2011 loss.