A turnround in its Latin American businesses – which contribute 26% of Colgate-Palmolive sales, ahead of North America’s 24% – helped achieve the group’s biggest sales rise in four years. The consumer products giant reported second quarter net income up year-on-year, bettering by fourteen percent last year’s $287.2 million (€289.63m; £183.24m) or 47 cents a share.

Q2 2002 saw New York-based Colgate’s net income hit $327m (55 cents a share), a tad ahead of analysts’ consensus forecasts of 54 cents. Worldwide sales volumes grew 4%, besting many of the firm’s competitors, while gross margins rose by 1.1 points to 54.2%, beating its own target. These factors in combination drove operating margin up 1.5 points to a record 22.5%.

Colgate attributes this happy scenario to recent oral care innovations, among them Total Plus Whitening toothpaste and its Motion and Actibrush electric toothbrush brands. Looking ahead, there are equally high hopes for Simply White, a D-I-Y tooth whitening treatment due to launch across North America later this year.

But despite the bullish results, Colgate is looking over its shoulder at Procter & Gamble, whose re-engergized oral care division recently launched a directly competitive product range under the Crest banner. This too achieved its biggest gain in dollar sales in four years.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff