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Procter & Gamble reports sales bounty from pandemic hoarding

Americans take precautions as virus spreads
Americans take precautions as virus spreads 01:54

Procter & Gamble on Friday reported its U.S. sales during the first three months of the year as Americans overflowed their shopping carts with toilet paper, paper towels and other household staples sold by the consumer-products company.

The company is among the first in the consumer goods sector to report results for the three-month period through March, a time that had the coronavirus traveling around the globe and sparking hoarding in the U.S. as Americans readied to hunker down at home.

Units of P&G behind well-known brands including Charmin toilet paper, Bounty paper towels and Pampers diapers jumped as much as 8% compared with the first quarter of 2019, with CEO David Taylor describing the strong results as "a direct reflection of the integral role our products play in meeting the daily health, hygiene and cleaning needs of consumers around the world."

The pandemic-fueled purchases domestically more than made up for a sharp drop in business in China, P&G's second-biggest market, where efforts to curtail the coronavirus curtailed production and consumer purchases. Sales rose 10% in the U.S. and fell 8% in China, P&G said.

P&G reported net sales for the quarter of $17.2 billion, an increase of 5% from the year-earlier period. Its net earnings climbed 6.3% to $2.92 billion. 

The company, however, trimmed its full-year sales growth estimate to 3% to 4% from its earlier projection of 4% to 5% due currency fluctuations in some of its major overseas markets.

Stockpiling by consumers is behind much of the increase, but P&G executives said they think strong demand for products like laundry detergent, dishwashing soap and cold medicine will remain in play, perhaps for years and even decades.

Jon Moeller, who holds both P&G's chief operating officer and chief financial officer titles, said the coronavirus pandemic could spark permanent changes in consumer behavior when it comes to certain products.

"We will serve what will likely become a forever-altered health, hygiene and cleaning focus for consumers who use our products daily or multiple times each day," Moeller said.

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