Kimberly-Clark Profit Falls, Matches Expectations

Consumer-products company Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) said Monday that its profit slipped 2 percent in the first quarter even as revenue rose 5 percent led by improved sales of Kleenex tissues and other paper products.

Quarterly income fell to $450.1 million, or 93 cents per share, for the January-March period from $459.3 million, or 91 cents, in the year-ago period. The company's earnings matched the average estimate of 93 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Net sales totaled $3.91 billion, up from $3.71 billion a year earlier and surpassing the $3.89 billion targeted by Wall Street analysts. Currency benefits boosted sales by nearly 3 percent.

Kimberly-Clark, whose brands include Scott toilet paper (search) and Huggies diapers (search), said sales of consumer tissue products grew more than 7 percent on increased volume and net selling prices. Sales of personal-care products rose 4 percent, but selling prices declined due to competition in diapers and training pants in North America and Europe.

Meanwhile, sales of commercial products dropped by more than 1 percent, but would have grown 8 percent excluding year-ago revenue from its Neenah Paper (search) business, which Kimberly-Clark spun off last summer.

Looking forward, the company pegged its second-quarter profit between 92 cents and 94 cents per share and estimated yearly earnings at $3.70 to $3.85 per share.

Analysts currently project quarterly income of 95 cents per share and a full-year profit of $3.81 per share. The year before, Kimberly-Clark earned 90 cents per share in the second quarter and $3.61 per share in 2004.

Kimberly-Clark shares fell 77 cents to $62.76 on the New York Stock Exchange (search). They have traded in a 52-week range of $58.74 to $69.