NEW YORK CITY: Procter & Gamble’s bet on growing demand for adult incontinence products offered a bright spot Tuesday even as the consumer products giant reported another drop in quarterly sales.
P&G spotlighted the fiscal third quarter success of its ‘Always’ line of adult incontinence products, launched in 2014, as a valuable offset to the effect of a mild winter in the US which reduced demand for cough and cold medicines.
Revenues for the quarter ending March 31 were down 6.9 percent at $15.8 billion, as sales fell in all five of P&G’s consumer product categories.
But net income was $2.8 billion, up 27.7 percent from the same period a year ago.
P&G shares dropped 2.2 percent to $79.63 in afternoon trade.
The sales drop reflected the continued drag from the strong dollar and weak markets in oil-dependent countries.
Chief financial officer Jon Moeller said the company faces a “challenging and volatile macro environment.”
“There are more flash points across the globe than at any time in recent memory.”
P&G has responded to flagging sales by cutting costs and targeting more than 100 brands for divestiture as it seeks to boost best-sellers.
The company trimmed its 2016 growth forecast for the global consumer products market from 3 percent to 4 percent to 3 percent.
“With the lower oil prices, many economies that are based on the petroleum complex are struggling,” Moeller said. “That does affect consumption levels and the sales rates in those markets.”
Moeller said the US and Japanese markets were improving, while China was still growing, but not as quickly as previously. Europe was flat.
Brands with good results included the shampoos Pantene and Head & Shoulders.
Baby care sales declined from stiffened competition and grooming sales continued to suffer with lower shaving in the US due to the popularity of beards.
Bladder leaks: the unspoken ailment
Adult incontinence has become a potentially rich opportunity for P&G, offering some $7 billion in sales with an annual growth rate of seven percent as the population ages.
Products, advertised by the actress Marilu Henner, include liners, pads and underwear.
P&G has pointed to data that show that more than 40 percent of women over 40 are affected by a sensitive bladder.
“It’s a common experience, yet many women avoid talking about it: bladder leaks,” reads P&G’s marketing materials.
P&G followed up the US 2014 US introduction of the Always line with launches in much of Europe in 2015, most recently in Italy, Portugal and Spain in September.