Despite Consumer Weakness, 2011 Will Improve: Clorox CEO

Clorox headquarters in Oakland, California
Photo: Joseph Thornton
Clorox headquarters in Oakland, California

The chairman and CEO of household products maker Clorox, Donald Knauss, told CNBC Tuesday that he expects a stronger performance in the first half of 2011, after a disappointing quarter that missed expectations.

Revenue was down nearly 3 percent to $1.27 billion, instead of the estimated $1.38 billion, and net earnings were $140 million or $0.98 a share.

“ In the first half of 2011 we are going to see some improvement. We are getting the price points right, we have stepped up innovation, coming in January,” said Knauss.

The company's products include Glad plastic bags, Fresh Scoop cat litter, charcoal, and household cleaners.

Knauss blamed the lackluster performance this year on three issues: the expected swine-flu pandemic, which would have increased demand for disinfecting products, didn’t happen; the value of Venezuelan currency affected sales; and some categories were flat.

He said, surprisingly, some of its higher-end products, which require discretionary spending, such as Burt’s Bees products, were up 7 percent, but that housing products, driven by bleach, were down 5 percent.

“The consumer is still bumping along,” he said. “The consumer is still feeling pinched.”

Revenue is down 3 percent, not 8 percent, as was reported in an earlier version of this story.