(Reuters) - Kimberly-Clark Corp KMB.N said on Wednesday sales of tissue and toilet paper rose 13% in the first quarter as consumers stocked up in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic, helping the company beat Wall Street estimates for profit and sales.
The company, however, suspended its forecast for the year citing uncertainties caused by the health crisis that has killed at least 177,000 people globally, including over 45,000 in the United States.
Kimberly-Clark makes several pulp-based products, such as Cottonelle toilet paper, Kleenex facial tissue and Kotex feminine hygiene products, a majority of which, were in high demand as consumers stocked up before the lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Volumes increased 14% in its consumer tissue segment with sales of $1.7 billion (1.38 billion pounds), the company said. Sales in the personal care business, that includes diapers and feminine hygiene products, rose 6% to $2.4 billion.
“We increased investments in our business and our market positions remain broadly healthy,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Hsu said in a statement.
The company’s shares rose 2% to $142 in trading before the bell.
Procter & Gamble Co PG.N, which also makes Pampers diapers and Charmin toilet papers, said it had seen a rise in demand for cleaning products including detergents and dish soaps as consumers stayed at home and did their laundry and dishes more often.
As demand rose, several supermarkets have limited purchases per customer and reduced hours as they struggle to stock up shelves.
Organic sales of Kimberly-Clark’s consumer products, which exclude effects of currency fluctuations and acquisitions, rose 11% in North America.
“A combination of increased consumer demand for our products and strong execution by our teams is reflected in our first quarter results,” Hsu said.
Total net sales for the three-months ended March 31 rose about 8% to $5.01 billion. Analysts were expecting sales of $4.89 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $2.13 per share, well above market estimate of $1.98.
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski
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