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Clorox profit beats as demand for household products rises

U.S. cleaning products maker Clorox reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and adjusted profit, helped by strong demand for its household products and price increases in international markets.

The maker of Pine-Sol cleaners and Poett home care products, which had missed the Street's profit estimates in the past four quarters, also reaffirmed its profit outlook for the year ending June.

Net income from continuing operations rose to $145 million, or $1.10 per share, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, from $139 million, or $1.05 per share, a year earlier.

Total sales rose 0.7 percent to $1.35 billion. While revenue from household products increased 5.4 percent to $392 million, sales of cleaning products, Clorox's largest business, fell 1.9 percent to $470 million.

Clorox CEO Donald Knauss said,"We didn't see much impact (from Ebola) in the first quarter ending in September, but in October, we're seeing (sales of) our disinfecting products, particularly our Clorox disinfecting wipes are up in the high teens, low twenties. We're clearly seeing an impact, although some of it is also due to normal cold and flu season."

Last month, the company said it was exiting Venezuela as business there was "no longer viable."

Excluding a loss of 42 cents per share from discontinued Venezuela operations, and a one-time benefit of 5 cents per share, the company earned $1.05 per share in the first quarter.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.03 per share, on revenue of $1.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Clorox said it continued to expect full-year earnings from continuing operations of $4.35 to $4.50 per share, and forecast flat sales mainly due to foreign currency declines in its international markets, particularly Argentina.

Knauss added, "The company has tremendous brand strength. 80 percent of our brands are number one or number two in their space. There's tremendous cash flow. And I think investors, as long as we keep rewarding them, are going to want us to stay independent."

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