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Procter & Gamble quarterly profit rises on home care sales

Procter & Gamble, the world's largest household products maker, reported a higher quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by an increase in sales of its home care products.

But net sales were unchanged at $20.6 billion, disappointing investors looking for stronger growth. Organic sales, which exclude the impact of divestitures and acquisitions, rose 3 percent.

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Shares were down 1 percent, and one analyst said P&G needs to show sales can grow faster to lift shares.

"We believe a sustained acceleration in organic growth toward the upper end of the 3 percent to 4 percent range is necessary for material upside to the stock," said Oppenheimer & Co analyst Joseph Altobello in a research note.

Procter & Gamble's Scope mouthwash
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Procter & Gamble's Scope mouthwash

Organic sales in P&G's fabric care and home care division, which generates almost one third of sales, rose 6 percent. Brands in that category include Tide, Febreze air freshener, and Duracell batteries.

Grooming, its most profitable business, saw sales rise 1 percent. P&G's struggling beauty division, which includes Head & Shoulders and Olay, improved, with sales up 2 percent.

P&G has been under pressure to launch innovative products and streamline its businesses to focus on its core products. Two weeks ago, P&G said it was is selling the bulk of its pet food business to Mars for $2.9 billion.

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"We're operating in a slow-growth, highly competitive environment," Chief Executive A.G. Lafley said in a statement.

Under a 5-year, $10 billion restructuring plan announced in February 2012, P&G has sought to cut expenses by streamlining management, lower overhead costs and lower marketing costs. Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller told reporters on a call that restructuring was running ahead of schedule.

The maker of Pampers diapers and Tide detergent earned $2.61 billion, or $0.90 per share, in the fiscal third quarter ended March 31, up slightly from $2.57 billion, or $0.88 per share, a year earlier. Core earnings per share, excluding restructuring charges, rose 5 percent to $1.04.

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P&G left its fiscal 2014 forecasts unchanged. It still expects organic sales to rise 3 percent to 4 percent, and core earnings to rise 5 percent to 7 percent.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of $1.01 a share on $20.68 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

By Reuters. CNBC contributed to this report.

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