Kimberly-Clark Q4 Results Top Estimates; Boosts Dividend 6.5%

Kimberly-Clark Corp. (KMB) on Monday reported a profit for the fourth quarter that edged down from last year, hurt by higher expenses, despite 6 percent sales growth.

Both adjusted earnings per share and net sales topped analysts’ expectations. The company also initiated adjusted earnings and net sales growth guidance for the full-year 2021.

Further, the company declared a 6.5 percent higher quarterly dividend and authorized a new $5 billion share repurchase program.

For the fourth quarter, the Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers, reported net income of $539 million or $1.58 per share, down from $547 million or $1.59 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding items, adjusted net income for the quarter were $576 million or $1.69 per share, compared to $590 million or $1.71 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $1.60 per share for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Net sales for the quarter grew 6 percent to $4.84 billion from $4.58 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts expected revenues of $4.71 billion for the quarter. Organic sales growth was 5 percent.

Among segments, personal care sales grew 5 percent to $2.3 billion and consumer tissue sales increased 14 percent to $1.7 billion, while K-C Professional (KCP) sales decreased 9 percent to $0.7 billion from last year.

Additionally, the company’s Board of Directors has approved a 6.5 percent increase in the quarterly dividend to $1.14 per share, up from $1.07 per share in 2020. The dividend will be payable on April 5, 2021 to stockholders of record on March 5, 2021.

The Board also authorized a new $5 billion share repurchase program which supplements the current $5 billion authorization that is expected to be completed later in 2021.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2021, the company now projects adjusted earnings in a range of $7.75 to $8.00 per share compared to $7.74 per share in 2020. Net sales are also now expected to increase 4 to 6 percent, including organic sales growth of 1 to 2 percent.

The Street is currently looking for earnings of $7.77 per share on sales growth of 2.70 percent to $19.54 billion for the year.

As part of the 2018 Global Restructuring Program, Kimberly-Clark expects to exit or divest some low-margin businesses that generate about 1 percent of company net sales. The restructuring is expected to be completed in 2021.

The company now expects the program to generate annual pre-tax cost savings of $540 to $560 million by the end of 2021, compared to the prior target of $500 to $550 million.

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