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Colgate-Palmolive 1Q Net Up 3% On Revenue Gains

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s (CL) first-quarter earnings rose 3% as the consumer-products company reported revenue gains across its regions and also posted increased volumes and prices. The global toothpaste giant has been challenged of late by rising commodity costs as some cost-conscious shoppers trade down from branded products, especially in developed markets like the U.S. and Europe. While Colgate has seen strength in emerging markets like Latin America and Asia, new premium products such as its Colgate Optic White toothpaste have helped its North America business get back on track. Colgate has said it expects to grow revenue and expand margins this year, helped by higher prices, consumer acceptance of new products and more manageable commodity prices. Colgate-Palmolive reported a profit of $593 million, or $1.23 a share, up from $576 million, or $1.16 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 5.2% to $4.2 billion. Organic sales, which excludes foreign exchange, acquisitions and divestments rose 6.5%--the company's largest increase in seven quarters. Volume rose 3.5%, and rose 4.5% excluding divested businesses. Prices increased 3.5%. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a per-share profit of $1.24 on revenue of $4.18 billion. Gross margin narrowed to 58% from 58.4%. In North America, sales rose 5% as volume jumped 5% and prices edged up 0.5%. Overseas, where Colgate derives most of its revenue, sales were up 6.5% in Latin America, up 2.5% in the Europe/South Pacific region and up 8% in the Greater Asia/Africa region. Shares closed at $99.58 Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 24% over the past 12 months. -By Nathalie Tadena, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3287;

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