Colgate-Palmolive Co.: Freshening Up With A New Leader

March 8, 2006
Ian Cook to take over the reigns of the world's largest toothpaste maker.

New York-based Colgate-Palmolive Co. looks to build on momentum gained in a profitable 2005 with a new CEO. The consumer products manufacturer of popular brands that include its eponymous toothpaste and Irish Spring soap said current President and Chief Operating Officer Ian Cook will succeed Reuben Mark as CEO in 2007, Reuters reported Feb. 27.

Cook joined Colgate 30 years ago at its United Kingdom operations and served as the marketing director for Colgate Philippines, general manager of the company's Dominican Republic operations, general manager of Colgate's Nordic Group and executive vice president of marketing for Colgate U.S., according to the company's Web site.

He later became president of Colgate U.S. and president of Colgate North America before being appointed executive vice president for Colgate North America and Europe. He was named chief operating officer in July 2004.

Colgate-Palmolive Co.
At A Glance

Colgate-Palmolive Co.
New York
Primary Industry: Chemicals
Number of employees: 36,000
2004 In Review
Revenue: $10.6 billion
Profit Margin: 12.5%
Sales Turnover: 1.2
Inventory Turnover: 6.1
Revenue Growth: 6.5%
Return On Assets: 17.7%
Return On Equity: 149.6%
The move comes after a strong 2005 financial performance in which the company's profits increased 7% from 2004 to $1.3 billion. The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $380.6 million and earnings per share of 69 cents, up 14% and 17% respectively from 2004.

Cook's promotion also comes amid a major restructuring plan in which Colgate is cutting jobs and closing plants, Reuters reports.

For 2006, Colgate will introduce new products and is reportedly interested in purchasing Pfizer Inc.'s Listerine mouthwash brand. Pfizer said in early February it was considering selling or spinning off its consumer products division, which includes the Listerine brand, according to Bloomberg News. Colgate and Listerine already are partnering on a promotional offer that gives consumers a $3 rebate when they buy two tubes of Colgate Total toothpaste and one bottle of Listerine mouthwash.

New product introductions planned for North America, which comprises 21% of Colgate's sales, include Softsoap Pure Cashmere moisturizing body wash, Palmolive Odor Eliminator dish liquid, Speed Stick deodorant with Irish Spring scents and a relaunch of the entire line of Softsoap body washes with an improved formula and new packaging, the company said in its earnings report.

In a move that Colgate expects to lead to more new products, the company has partnered with the Forsyth Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on oral, craniofacial and related biomedical science, to form the Colgate-Forsyth Center for Advancement of Global Oral Health.

Forsyth will provide Colgate with leading-edge science and technology to develop new approaches to oral health. "Partnering with the world's most prominent oral care researchers should lead to identification of leading-edge science and transform exciting, innovative discoveries into new products," said Colgate's Mark in a January statement. "External research partnerships are an important part of our plan to strengthen oral care innovation."

Mark says he expects 2006 will be another profitable year. "Looking forward, we expect our growth momentum to continue as we enter 2006," he said in a Jan. 25 statement. "We are confident that, excluding restructuring charges and accounting changes for stock-based compensation, we will generate double-digit earnings per share growth in 2006 beginning in the first quarter."

By 2010 the company is targeting 5% to 8% volume growth per annum and double-digit growth in earnings per share, according to Reuters.

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