P&G CEO says growth plan working

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2010 4:28 PM
P&G CEO says growth plan working

Procter & Gamble Co.'s CEO says its growth plan is showing progress on several fronts, and on schedule for the target of 5 billion consumers in five years.

Bob McDonald told shareholders Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Cincinnati-based consumer products maker that P&G added 200 million users of such brands as Pampers diapers and Olay skin cream last year, for 4.2 billion globally.

He also says P&G increased global market share, including in 14 of its 17 biggest countries, and saw higher per capita spending and household penetration.

"This is encouraging performance," McDonald said, adding that P&G believes it can continue to grow by offering a broader range of its leading brands at different price levels, such as a cheaper version of Tide now offered in India and a premium-priced Gillette Fusion ProGlide rolled out four months ago in the United States.

"We won't let up," said McDonald, who became P&G's CEO in 2009 and added the chairman's title last Jan. 1.

Shareholders seemed satisfied, but a couple got applause when they challenged P&G's practice of printing coupons in both Spanish and English in some U.S. markets including the Cincinnati area. McDonald says P&G prints coupons in multiple languages, geared to reach local populations, such as in Chinese for cities such as San Francisco.

"Our purpose is to touch and improve the lives of the world's consumers, not just those who speak English," McDonald said.

P&G shares closed down 12 cents, at $62.02. They closed at $57.26 the day of last year's shareholders meeting.

"They're not exactly hitting new highs," said investor Jim Horner, a retired attorney from Lakeside Park, Ky. But he's continued adding P&G stock: "I've lived here 50 years, and I know P&G basically is a solid company."

Shareholders got a scare in the May "flash crash" when the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points in minutes and P&G fell to $39.37.

But Horner noted the stock climbed back quickly after the nosedive, which is still being studied by regulators.