NEW YORK -- Pandemic-driven demand for cleaning products drove better-than-expected earnings by U.S .giant Procter & Gamble in the latest quarter, the company reported Tuesday.
The consumer products giant said sales of disinfectants and detergents jumped 30% in the first quarter of its fiscal year, with the division that includes toilet paper and paper towels seeing double-digit growth in every region.
The gain "was driven by the disproportionate growth of premium home, health and hygiene products and the North American business, driven in part by pandemic-related consumption," the company said in a statement.
The only soft spot linked to the pandemic was men's razors, and the company boosted expected earnings for the year.
The conglomerate that sells brands like Mr. Clean, Dawn, Gillette, Oral-B and Pampers saw total sales increase by 9 percent to $19.3 billion compared to the July-September quarter of 2019, well above the $18.3 billion analysts had forecast.
"Our near-term priorities continue to be employee health and safety, maximizing availability of P&G products for consumers around the world and helping society meet the challenges of the COVID crisis," P&G chief David Taylor said in the statement.
The company's profit rose 19% to $4.28 billion, while earnings per share (EPS) -- a key benchmark for Wall Street -- jumped 20 percent to $1.63, well above the expected $1.41.
Given the strong first quarter results, P&G raised its forecasts for its entire fiscal year, now projecting sales growth of three-to-four percent, compared to one-to-three percent previously.
EPS is now projected to grow five-to-eight percent.
P&G plans to reward shareholders with $8 billion in dividends over the full fiscal year and slightly increase its share buyback program.