Oct 24 (Reuters) - Colgate-Palmolive Co posted slightly higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday as it spent more on advertising to promote products including new versions of its well-known toothpaste.
The company still expects its annual profit to rise 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent, assuming foreign exchange rates remain fairly stable. It is targeting double-digit earnings per share growth for 2014, excluding restructuring charges.
Advertising spending rose 6 percent from a year earlier, and Colgate said it planned to keep spending more for the rest of the year. It is promoting new products such as Colgate Optic White toothpaste and Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic pet food around the world.
Colgate said it had earned $656 million, or 70 cents per share, up slightly from $654 million, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding restructuring charges, Colgate earned 73 cents per share, matching analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 1.5 percent to $4.4 billion, below the analysts' average forecast of $4.46 billion. Organic sales, which strip out the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and foreign exchange, were up 6 percent.
In Latin America, Colgate's biggest market by far, organic sales rose 9.5 percent, a stronger showing than in the first two quarters of the year. Operating profit in Latin America declined 5 percent due to higher costs in Venezuela and elsewhere. Business in Venezuela has been hurt by February's devaluation of the nation's bolivar.
In North America, organic sales rose 1.5 percent, aided by products such as Colgate Optic White and Colgate Optic White Dual Action toothpastes. North American operating profit jumped 15 percent as the company continued its long-standing cost cutting program and advertising spending decreased due to the timing of product launches.