UPDATE 4-Clorox gives tepid outlook after lackluster quarter

* Flat earnings; sales down 3 pct

* Weak U.S. economy, Venezuela currency devaluation hurt

* Sees FY11 EPS $4.05 to $4.20 vs Street’s $4.59

* Clorox, Avon shares down; Kimberly-Clark, P&G higher
(Adds analyst comments, Venezuela details, shares of rivals)

By Dhanya Skariachan and Jon Lentz

NEW YORK, Nov 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Clorox Co (CLX.N: ) posted flat
quarterly earnings and gave a tepid full-year forecast, hurt by
weak demand and rising competition in North America, sending
its shares down more than 4 percent.

The maker of Pine-Sol cleaners and Burt’s Bees personal
care products now estimates 2011 earnings of $4.05 to $4.20 a
share. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $4.59 a
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“Late first-quarter shipments were particularly soft and
that trend has continued into the first weeks of our second
quarter,” Chief Executive Don Knauss said in a statement.

Consumer goods makers such as Clorox, which does most of
its business in North America, have faced greater competition
from private-label store brands as shoppers remain budget
conscious, while costs for materials to make their products
have risen.

Clorox made a deal in September to sell its auto-care
brands to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners for $780
million to focus on more lucrative businesses including
hospital disinfectants and beauty products.

“They are in highly competitive categories and there is not
much in the way of consumer demand,” BMO Capital Markets
analyst Connie Maneaty said.

Maneaty, who has a “market perform” on Clorox’s shares,
recommended Procter & Gamble to investors keen to park their
money in consumer packaged goods companies.

“The only company that had a really decent quarter was P&G.
So, Avon, Colgate, Clorox, Kimberly, all of them have reported
results that very much mirror what’s going on around them.
Procter’s results really … are much more of their own
making,” she said.

Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N: ) posted better-than-expected
quarterly earnings last week on the strength of its new
products and successful advertising. [ID:nN27198603]

But Kimberly-Clark Corp (KMB.N: ) earnings fell on higher
material costs and spending on promotions [ID:nN26284542]. Even
Colgate-Palmolive Co (CL.N: ) said 2011 earnings-per-share growth
would slow as it spends more on advertising and developing new
products. [ID:nN28106618]

VENEZUELA STILL HURTS

Clorox said sales fell 3 percent to $1.27 billion. In
addition to weak demand on its home turf, the company also
blamed the currency devaluation in Venezuela, a major
international market for consumer packaged goods, for the
lackluster results.

Venezuela, which announced the devaluation of the bolivar
in early January, is largely dependent on imports for consumer
goods. The devaluation means many products cost more for
consumers, in turn affecting demand and weighing on profits of
foreign companies.

In a regulatory filing, the company said the Venezuela
currency devaluation hurt its net earnings by 8 cents a share
this quarter. It saw no impact from other foreign currency (Read more about trading foreign currency.
moves.

On the New York Stock Exchange, Clorox fell 4.2 percent to
$63.48 and Avon (AVP.N: ) slid 0.45 percent, while P&G rose 0.8
percent and Kimberly-Clark gained 1.3 percent at
mid-afternoon.

Clorox’s first-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) from continuing operations of
$140 million, or 98 cents per share, compared with $140
million, or 99 cents per share a year earlier.

“When you step back and you look at it, Clorox is, you
know, domiciled in the mature markets in categories that don’t
show much growth,” Maneaty said.

Volume declined 2 percent, primarily due to lower shipments
of food-storage products and cat litter.

Including discontinued operations, net earnings were $216
million, or $1.52 per share, compared with $157 million, or
$1.11 per share, in the year-ago quarter.
(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff, Jon Lentz and Dhanya
Skariachan; Editing by Derek Caney, Maureen Bavdek and Richard
Chang)

UPDATE 4-Clorox gives tepid outlook after lackluster quarter