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$CLX 4Q15 Call: FY15: free cash flow was $733MM vs. $649MM in FY14, up 13%; highest level delivered in more than 10 years. Clorox repurchased about 4MM shares for about $434MM in FY15 and increased its dividend by 4% in 4Q15. At FY15-end, debt-to-EBITDA ratio was 1.8, below company's target of 2.0 to 2.5.
$CLX announced the official opening of a new manufacturing facility for the company's Home Care products. Named Atlanta West, the 258,000-sq.ft. facility is adjacent to the company's existing manufacturing facility, called Atlanta Main. The opening of Atlanta West has created about 100 jobs in Clayton County.
Branded food company $SJM has nominated Dawn C Willoughby and Kirk L Perry to its BoD. Willoughby currently serves as EVP and COO of $CLX. Earlier, Willoughby held various positions in sales management at Procter & Gamble Company. Perry is the President of $GOOGL's Brand Solutions. Prior to joining Google, he had worked in Procter & Gamble Company.
$CLX said that on charcoal, sales was down in 3Q17 after double digit growth in 2Q17. This was due to the slower start to the grilling season which was weather related. However, $CLX feels positive about the partnership it has with retailers on the marketing and merchandising side on the charcoal business.
As $CLX posted 3Q17 results, CFO Steve Robb said, "our third quarter results reflect strong advertising and trade promotion investments to support our brands, including product innovation, which we anticipate will contribute to our fourth quarter volume and sales results." CLX now sees FY17 diluted EPS of $5.25-5.35, with a sales growth of 3-4%.
$CLX's total company sales grew to $1.48Bil in 3Q17, benefitted by price increases in its International business, primarily in Argentina. Clorox's net earnings went up 6.2% to $172MM or $1.31 per diluted share, from $162MM or $1.23 per share a year ago.
On RenewLife acquisition, $CLX said the integration is well on track and RenewLife is ahead of expectations for FY17, not just for EPS but also in terms of shares and margins. The company said that it is getting distribution wins with major retailers and it is expected to continue.
In 2Q17, $CLX saw margin improvement in its International business, helped by the ongoing productivity initiatives. The company said U.S. retail advertising spending for the quarter came in at about 10% of sales, reflecting continued support behind its brands.
$CLX continues to anticipate EBIT margin expansion for FY17 in the range of 25-50 basis points. This reflects lower selling and administrative expenses as a percentage of sales driven by ongoing productivity initiatives and normalized levels of performance-based incentive compensation costs.
$CLX narrowed its FY17 EPS from continuing operations guidance to $5.23-5.38 from $5.23-5.43. This reflects a 5-cent reduction in anticipated benefit from adopting Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-09, issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, related to the accounting of employee share-based payments.
$CLX now expects FY17 sales growth of 3-4% versus its prior estimate of 2-4%. The sales outlook reflects strong sales results in 1H17, robust innovation plans in 2H17 and about 2 percentage points of benefit from the RenewLife acquisition. $CLX anticipates these factors to be partially offset by 1-2% of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates.