Business - New York Kimberly-Clark backs outlook, raises cost-cut goal

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Kleenex and Huggies reiterated its full-year adjusted profit forecast and expects to save more money through cost-cutting than initially anticipated.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. said Monday that it still sees 2010 adjusted earnings between $4.80 and $5 per share. That excludes an expected charge for the reworking of its local currency balance sheet in Venezuela to account for the country's currency devaluation.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates generally remove one-time items, predict a profit of $4.87 per share.

The consumer products maker also said its cost reduction program will likely result in savings of $400 million to $450 million for 2008 through 2010. It previously anticipated savings of $350 million to $450 million.

The announcements came as part of Kimberly-Clark's investor day meeting in New York on Monday.

The company, based in Dallas, has weathered the recession well, according to some analysts, by guarding its profits through price increases that helped buffer rising costs for key components like pulp.

Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk said in a statement that Kimberly-Clark will still pour money into supporting its brands, as well as continue to focus on trimming costs in the future.

"We will continuously improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our organization as we create a leaner, stronger and faster company," he said.

Long term, Kimberly-Clark expects earnings-per-share growth in the mid- to high-single digits through 2015 and a sales increase of 3 percent to 5 percent.

The consumer products maker also plans to roll out several new and updated products during the first half of the year, including a disposable Kleenex hand towel, improved Cottonelle bathroom tissue and Viva paper towels, and new Poise and Depend products.

Overseas will remain a key focus, with Kimberly-Clark emphasizing high-potential, fast-growing markets like China, Russia and Latin America.

Published: Tue, Mar 23, 2010