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UPDATE 2-Newell profit tops Street; to buy back more shares

Dhanya Skariachan
Friday, 25 Oct 2013 | 9:32 AM ET

(Adds buyback, analyst comment, shares)

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Newell Rubbermaid Inc topped Wall Street's profit estimates for the third quarter on tight cost controls and strength in Latin America, and offered more cash to shareholders through a $350 million accelerated share repurchase plan, sending its shares up 2 percent at the open of trading on Friday.

The maker of Sharpie pens and Rubbermaid storage containers has banked on a fast-growing Latin American market to offset weakness in crisis-ridden Europe and Asia. Earlier this year, it decided to sell its hardware and teaching aids units to focus on products for contractors and on emerging markets.

Under Chief Executive Mike Polk, a former Unilever Plc executive who took the helm in July 2011, Newell has kept a tight lid on costs by cutting jobs, consolidating manufacturing and distribution facilities, and reducing the number of business units.

Newell has used some of those savings to boost its marketing efforts, which in turn helped the company gain market share in businesses, including baby & parenting, home and tools.

The company said it expects to complete the accelerated share buyback by year end. The latest repurchase is in addition to Newell's current $300 million repurchase plan, which was approved in 2011.

Wells Fargo analyst Chris Ferrara said the program gets Newell "off to a fast start in 2014" in its race to boost profit. JPMorgan analyst John Faucher expects the program to add about 2 percent to 3 percent to 2014 estimates.

Net income in the third quarter rose to $193.3 million, or 66 cents a share, from $108.3 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring costs, tax benefits and a gain from the sale of its hardware business, it earned 52 cents a share. On that basis, the average analyst estimate was 49 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 2.1 percent to $1.49 billion, while analysts expected $1.50 billion. Sales rose in Latin America and the United States, but fell in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The company also stood by its full-year profit forecast of $1.80 to $1.84 a share, before items. Analysts expect $1.82.

Newell shares were up 2 percent at $29.50 on Friday.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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