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P&G to Ditch Duracell as Battery Business Drains Q1 Earnings

NEW YORK - Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (IW 500/14) (PG) Friday reported a big drop in earnings following a large asset-write-down, as it announced plans to exit the Duracell battery business.

P&G, which makes Pantene shampoo, Tide detergent and other household staples, reported quarterly earnings of $2.01 billion, down 34.2% from last year on slightly lower sales. The results covered P&G first quarter in fiscal year 2015.

"P&G's first quarter results were in line with our expectations, despite a very difficult operating environment," said chief executive A. G. Lafley.

The biggest factor behind the lower earnings was a $932 million one-time charge to write down the value of its Duracell battery business, which P&G plans to unload.

P&G reported higher sales for its health care products as well as its baby, feminine and family care segment.

But sales dropped in its other three divisions, in part due to the strong dollar.

Sales in all five divisions were flat or positive compared with last year, when currency effects and the impact of acquisitions and divestitures are removed.

P&G said it expects "significant negative sales and earnings impacts from foreign exchange in the October-December 2014 quarter."

The consumer products giant in August sold its interest in a China-based battery joint venture in the first step of exiting Duracell.

P&G, which has said it will ditch Duracell, is mulling whether to do so via a spin-off or outright sale.

Friday's results translated into organic earnings per share of $1.07, in line with analyst expectations.

Revenues were down 0.2% at $20.79 billion, slightly below the $20.83 billion expected by analysts.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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