Procter & Gamble today issued its second profits warning in as many months. The consumer goods giant, whose portfolio includes Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Duracell, cut forecasts for sales and earnings for the coming quarter and the year as a whole.
Chief executive Bob MacDonald offered a litany of factors hitting performance, including high unemployment in developed markets, rising commodity costs and, intriguingly, political uncertainty in Venezuela. We’re all wrestling with that last one.
“It’s our job to overcome these [problems] but we haven’t always been able to do this, in part because we haven’t been hitting on all cylinders internally,” Macdonald said. “We haven’t created a new category or a meaningful new brand in some time.”
There was also some self-flagellation over expansion into emerging markets that financial chief Jon Moeller said, on reflection, was over-ambitious.
The company is now retrenching, focusing development on its 20 biggest brands and 40 largest businesses.
“It’s not just about the US,” MacDonald said. “Many of the top 40 businesses are in China, our second-largest and most profitable market, and there are businesses within the top 40 in Russia and also in Brazil.”
P&G certainly isn’t the only one struggling to make headway across Europe, with Danone forced to put out its own profit warning just yesterday. But what an analyst at Alliance Bernstein this week called the “incredibly mediocre” performance of P&G suggests a need for major surgery rather than a metaphorical shave and a shower.
Hence the $10bn round of cost-cutting, already announced once this year, that MacDonald again pointed to today.