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Bleach maker Clorox lifts annual sales, profit forecasts on faster inventory recovery

A Clorox worker walks past the's company logo at its headquarters in Valles del Tuy

By Deborah Mary Sophia

(Reuters) -Clorox raised its annual targets on Thursday, after handily beating quarterly earnings expectations, as the bleach maker replenished inventory at a faster pace after a production blip in 2023, putting it back on track to meet robust demand.

The company's shares jumped about 8% in extended trading, after it said it was rebuilding retailer inventories ahead of schedule and recouping market share losses, bouncing back from a cyberattack in August that hampered its ability to fulfill orders.

"We made a lot more progress, more quickly than we anticipated... we lost less sales (in the quarter) because we had product back in retailer stores more quickly," CFO Kevin Jacobsen said in an interview.

At the height of the cyberattack, Clorox lost over five market share points, but had recovered to a decline of just one point at December-end and was improving in January, he added.

Clorox's health and wellness segment, home to brands including Pine-Sol cleaning products, saw a 25% surge in sales, mainly driven by higher volumes.

That, coupled with higher prices, drove a 16% jump in the company's second-quarter sales at $1.99 billion, beating LSEG estimates of $1.80 billion.

Consumers have been "quite resilient" but the company's outlook assumes they will be under more pressure in the back half of the year, Jacobsen noted.

Clorox's results were in contrast with other consumer goods companies that reported last week — toothpaste maker Colgate-Palmolive forecast downbeat annual sales, while Kimberly-Clark missed fourth-quarter estimates.

Net sales are now expected to be down low single digits, Clorox said, compared with its prior forecast of a mid-to-high-single digit decline. Analysts on average expect a 5% drop to $7.01 billion.

The Liquid-Plumr drain cleaner maker expects annual adjusted earnings per share between $5.30 and $5.50, versus prior range of $4.30 to $4.80.

Excluding items, Clorox posted per-share profit of $2.16 for the quarter, above Wall Street estimates of $1.10.

(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)