* Profit 43 cents/share vs Street view 42 cents
* Sales up 1.6 pct, in line with expectations
* 2013 profit view $1.78-$1.84/share vs Street view $1.82
By Jessica Wohl
Feb 1 Newell Rubbermaid Inc reported a
better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Friday, but gave a
forecast that 2013 could fall short of Wall Street expectations
as the consumer products maker spends more on advertising to
increase business in North American and emerging markets.
Under Chief Executive Mike Polk, who took the Newell helm in
July 2011, the maker of Sharpie markers and Rubbermaid storage
containers has cut jobs, consolidated manufacturing and
distribution facilities, and reduced the number of business
units to control costs.
Newell, which also makes Graco strollers, Calphalon cookware
and Paper Mate pens, has now met or exceeded Wall Street
expectations for profit and sales for six consecutive quarters.
Now, the company is preparing for some of its biggest
marketing pushes yet, including more in-store promotions of its
Rubbermaid food and beverage storage containers.
Newell is placing its biggest investment bets in the
Americas, including North America and faster-growing markets in
Latin America, and is also preparing for expansion in Asia, Polk
said in an interview.
The company said it expects earnings of $1.78 to $1.84 per
share for the year, excluding special items, while analysts were
looking for $1.82, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"We expected conservative 2013 guidance and believe the
investments will pay off," said BMO Capital Markets analyst
Connie Maneaty, who has an "outperform" rating on Newell shares.
The company's shares were down less than 1 percent at $23.33
in afternoon trading after rising to $23.87, their highest level
since April 2008. The shares rose 37.9 percent last year.
"We remain bullish on the shares, as we believe the
company's turnaround remains on track" and should lead to faster
sales and profit growth over time, said Oppenheimer analyst
MORE IN-STORE PROMOTIONS FOR RUBBERMAID
In the past, Newell has made its big in-store promotional
push for its Rubbermaid food storage products just once a year,
after Thanksgiving on the busy Black Friday shopping day. This
year, it is adding four more events, starting with the Super
Bowl, then Easter, July 4th, and the back-to-school season.
"It's either connected to a big family event, where there's
food and food leftovers, or it's connected to a moment in time
when mom refreshes her kitchen," Polk said.
The company is able to do such promotions without resorting
to deep discounting, keeping margins at levels that should
please retailers and the company itself, he added.
Newell did not give an advertising budget for 2013.
Fourth-quarter net income rose to $101.9 million, or 35
cents per share, from $80.4 million, or 27 cents per share, a
Excluding one-time items such as restructuring costs, Newell
earned 43 cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate by
a penny. The tax rate on those adjusted earnings declined to
20.7 percent from 23 percent a year earlier.
Fourth-quarter net sales rose 1.6 percent to $1.52 billion,
meeting analysts' expectations. Excluding the impact of foreign
currency fluctuations, sales rose 2.2 percent.
The company said that adjusted earnings in the current first
quarter are likely to come in below last year's adjusted 33
cents per share, which included about 3.5 cents from a shift in
orders related to a European SAP software conversion. Analysts'
average forecast had been for 34 cents per share.
Newell said this year's sales should rise 1 percent to 3
percent, or 2 percent to 4 percent excluding foreign currency