Newell sees strong 2010 as sales trends perk up

By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Newell Rubbermaid Inc’s (NWL.N: ) quarterly profit beat Wall Street estimates on improving sales trends across all geographies and the consumer products maker to raise its full-year outlook.

Newell, whose shares rose to a nearly 19-month high, also benefited from a shifting of in demand to the first quarter from the second quarter, in advance of a software upgrade at its Rubbermaid Commercial unit.

The company’s products include Rubbermaid plastic storage containers, Sharpie pens, Graco baby strollers and Calphalon cookware.

“It was good to see a reflection of improving consumer demand,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Connie Maneaty said, adding the results bode well for the companies who have yet to report.

She said demand for office products and some of the other cyclical businesses was recovering, echoing sentiments from OfficeMax (OMX.N: ), which beat quarterly profit estimates and forecast higher 2010 sales.

The company said the 8.5 percent sales growth marked “a significant inflection point” from the trends of the last four quarters.

It raised its 2010 earnings forecast by 3 cents to a range of $1.38 to $1.48 a share. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.43 a share.

Newell shares were up 4 percent, or 65 cents, at $17.60 on the New York Stock Exchange. They touched an intraday high of $17.95, its highest level since early April 2008.

First-quarter net profit rose to $58.4 million, or 19 cents a share, from $33.7 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 25 cents a share, beating the analysts’ average forecast of 18 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 8.5 percent to $1.3 billion, above the analysts’ estimate of $1.21 billion.

Newell also gained from a foreign exchange-related benefit. In addition, many of its customers placed larger than normal orders in March to mitigate potential supply disruptions as a result of a switch to SAP (SAPG.DE: ) software at its Rubbermaid Commercial unit.

The company, which has been gaining market share in the majority of its businesses, said in January that it expected sales to pick up more steam in the second half of 2010.

BMO Capital’s Maneaty, who has a “market perform” rating on Newell, expects sales growth to gain traction toward the end of the year, especially in the fourth quarter.

Newell now sees 2010 net sales growth at a low- to mid-single-digit percentage rate, compared with prior expectations in the low single digits. It still expects margins to rise by 0.75 to 1.00 percentage point.

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(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Derek Caney)

Newell sees strong 2010 as sales trends perk up