Looking back at last year, Lafley "could have underestimated the toughness of the global consumer environment, reinvestment needed to halt share losses where consumers have turned to value, how much better competitors have become and how quickly the development of retail is undermining the advantage scale provides when distributing in China, and Russia," said Consumer Edge Research analysts in a note published ahead of earnings.
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Analysts said there are also fundamental issues that make it harder for P&G to grow in this environment, including the company's lack of local manufacturing presence, which has saved competitors like Unilever money on labor and production costs and has pressured P&G's margins. Some products sold in Brazil, for instance, are made in Europe, according to analysts.
Another issue: The corporate structure where decisions are made, and business is reported, is done so by category—i.e. beauty or grooming—instead of geographically focused by region, which is how Colgate operates. P&G's structure may result in a misunderstanding of local consumer markets and tastes and an inability to be nimble regarding changes and decisions on brands and execution, particularly important for the localized beauty market.
The company also might have to rethink pricing.
"I think P&G is at too high of a price in categories that are becoming commoditized. Do you really care about which laundry detergent you use to pay 2x for Tide? Also, the categories themselves are slowing because of that (i.e., trading down) and thus competition is on the rise," Dibadj said.
John Faucher, who covers the stock at JPMorgan, said P&G has room to lower prices, especially as the brands have lost their premium value to competitors over the years, cut costs further, and innovate with new products.
But there's been market chatter about P&G breaking up and spinning off the individual businesses to unlock value and bring a sharper focus on execution and growth for each category.
Nik Modi of RBC Capital Markets said earlier this week, that he wants to know specifically how P&G plans to cope with troubles in the beauty business, and "if they can't, I would like them to address whether they would ever spin off the business."
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Despite the challenges and the to-do list, Wall Street analysts are fairly optimistic.
Faucher has a "buy" rating on the basis that "the concerns on top line and gross margins have weighed on the stock, in our view. We see upside versus the group as margin and EPS performance improves in 2015."
Beyond steering the company back to growth, the other task for Lafley in taking the top job was to choose a successor, as he had never intended on staying for the long run.
So far, no hints of where the company or he is in the selection process, but perhaps P&G should break with its long-standing and deeply imbedded practice of hiring within, to bring in some fresh ideas. Because the task at hand is steering a diversified, global juggernaut—121,000 employees large, that traces its roots back to 1837—back to growth.
"If this legendary CEO can't fix the business over the next year, I think it means it is unfixable in its current form and the problems need to broken up into smaller ones...i.e., a break up," Dibadj said.
—By CNBC's Sara Eisen