Church & Dwight sales and forecast weak; shares fall

Tue Aug 7, 2012 12:57pm EDT

(Reuters) - Church & Dwight Co Inc's (CHD.N) quarterly sales fell short of Wall Street expectations and the maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda forecast a third-quarter profit below analysts' estimates, pushing its shares down 6.6 percent.

The company expects a "difficult and challenging economic environment" for the rest of 2012 as consumer spending and growth in many categories are likely to remain weak, said Chief Executive James Craigie.

During the second quarter, sales of higher-margin personal care items such as Arm & Hammer Spinbrush battery-powered toothbrushes and Answer pregnancy test kits fell, while sales of lower-margin household goods such as Arm & Hammer and XTRA liquid laundry detergents rose.

"While (Church & Dwight) continues to execute well in a difficult environment, we are concerned about the pressure it is facing in its personal care business as the segment has declined for three consecutive quarters," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Connie Maneaty, who has a "market perform" rating on the shares.

Church & Dwight said it expects to earn about 58 cents per share in the current quarter. Analysts' average estimate is 61 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Church & Dwight stood by its full-year profit forecast of $2.41 to $2.43 per share. Analysts were looking for $2.43 per.

Second-quarter profit fell to $79.3 million, or 56 cents per share, from $82.6 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected 55 cents per share.

Revenue rose 3.2 percent to $696.4 million, missing analysts' average estimate of $702.7 million.

In the laundry aisle, Church & Dwight has faced stepped-up pressure from Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N), which is promoting its new Tide Pods single-dose laundry detergent.

Shares of Princeton, New Jersey-based Church & Dwight were down $3.66, or 6.6 percent, at $52.04 in midday trading after falling as low as $50.65.

(Reporting by Aditi Shrivastava in Bangalore and Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Don Sebastian and John Wallace)

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