Strong sales of soaps and cleaning products boosted Procter & Gamble earnings amid the coronavirus crisis

New York (AFP) - Strong sales of cleaning products and soaps amid the coronavirus crisis more than compensated for lackluster demand for shaving products, lifting Procter & Gamble’s quarterly earnings, the company reported Thursday.

The US consumer products giant, whose brands include Mr. Clean, Cascade and Gilette, scored an impressive 11 percent surge in second-quarter sales in fabric and home care, the standout division in the period.

“We remain highly relevent across the board,” said Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller, who said consumers were keeping larger inventories of products at home to avoid store visits.

“Consumers generally are carrying higher inventory levels. They also are consuming more,” said Moeller, adding that shoppers had also had more money for household items that might have otherwise gone to travel or eating out.

Moeller said consumers were using more detergent because they were washing clothes after just one use. Sales of some items, such as Bounty paper towels, were up “strong” double digits in the quarter, he told reporters on a conference call.

Net income came in at $2.8 billion, compared to a loss of $5.2 billion in the year-ago period, which was weighed down by a large writeoff.

Revenues rose 3.5 percent to $17.7 billion, topping analyst expectations.

Organic sales grew in every category except grooming, which has suffered a sales hit as consumers have eased back on shaving while at home.

This effect has been mitigated somewhat among health care workers because of the improved fit of face masks when users shave, said Moeller.

Sales were especially strong in China and North America. Performance in some other regions suffered due to disruption in consumer access to stores due to the pandemic.

P&G forecast one to three percent sales growth for fiscal 2021.

Shares rose 2.0 percent to $130.90 in pre-market trading.