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The Clorox Company reported 3% sales growth and a 110 basis-point increase in gross margin for the quarter, which ended September 30, 2012. "We're off to a good start in the fiscal year," said The Clorox Company’s chairman and CEO Don Knauss. "We delivered sales growth in both our U.S. and international businesses. We also saw strong margin improvement in the quarter, which is a particular focus for the company, even as we continue to invest in systems and facilities infrastructure."
In the company’s lifestyle division—which includes Burt’s Bees, as well as dressings and sauces and water filtration—the company reported Burt's Bees shipments declined slightly, following strong growth in the year-ago period, behind a robust pipeline of new products. However, Burt's Bees did deliver double-digit retail sales growth, as segment sales for the lifestyle division grew primarily due to the benefit of price increases.
Overall, Clorox reported first-quarter earnings of $133 million, or $1.01 diluted earnings per share (EPS). This compares with $130 million, or 98 cents diluted EPS, in the year-ago quarter. Current-quarter results reflect higher sales and gross margin expansion, partially offset by higher selling and administration expenses, including continued investments in the company's information technology systems.
Volume for the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 decreased 1%, as price increases impacted shipments. Sales growth outpaced volume primarily due to the benefit of price increases, partially offset by unfavorable foreign exchange. "We are very pleased that we delivered margin improvement in the quarter," said senior vice president and CFO Steve Robb. "We've taken the right steps to rebuild our margin, including well-executed price increases across our portfolio and a strong focus on cost savings, a company hallmark."