P&G Silences Doubters as Lafley Allays Shareholder Fears

15 October 2008

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble will continue to focus on its core fundamentals to drive long-term growth through good and challenging times alike, chairman/ceo Alan G Lafley (pictured) told the company's annual meeting on Tuesday.

His emphasis was remorselessly centered on restoring confidence amid the global financial panic. Soothed Lafley: "P&G's portfolio of leading brands, its focus on creating consumer value, its cash and cost management discipline and its unswerving passion for innovation are the core fundamentals that have and will continue to fuel the company's growth."

Working the crowd, like the seasoned professional he is, he attempted to reassure doubters who fear that even the planet's largest and most efficient advertiser will shiver in the current economic chill.

"The reason P&G has grown so consistently for so long is that we're a company that sticks to the fundamentals. We build brands that improve consumers' lives. We deliver superior value day in and day out. We manage cash and costs with unrelenting discipline. And we invest in innovation as the primary driver of profitable organic sales growth.

"While the economic environment remains volatile and uncertain, I am confident that P&G can and will continue to prosper over the long term. We are committed to ensuring P&G will continue to be a company you can count on."

Net sales for the fiscal year ended June 30 increased 9% to $83.5 billion (€61.98bn; £49.01bn), with organic sales up 5%, amidships in P&G's four to six percent target range.

Diluted earnings per share were $3.64, up 20% or double the company's 10% target. Free cash flow was $13.0bn for the fiscal year, or 106% of net earnings - well above the company's 90% goal.

Lafley hammered home P&G's long-term performance record. Sales have nearly doubled in each of the past three decades - he told the meeting - from $10bn in 1980 to more than $80bn today with earnings growth increasing from $640 million to $12bn over the same period.

Over the past five years, the company has delivered 11% compound  annual total return to shareholders, 9% over the past ten years, and 16% over the past twenty years.

Dividends have also increased every year - more than nine percent annually on average - over the past fifty-two years, and have been paid without interruption since the company was incorporated 118 years ago. 

The company will issue its results for the first fiscal quarter ended September 30 on October 29, 2008.

It is not recorded whether Lafley's presentation was greeted with a standing ovation. It was certainly deserved. 

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff