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Clorox's Sales of Disinfectant Wipes amid Ebola, Flu Worry

Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014 07:01 PM

Clorox Co.’s sales of disinfectant wipes jumped 20 percent last month, when Ebola fears and the onset of flu season prompted Americans to stock up on cleaning supplies.

While it’s hard to say how much Ebola fueled demand, the year-over-year gain helped get the wipes into more households, company executives said Tuesday in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. About half of U.S. homes currently use Clorox wipes, compared with about 60 percent for liquid bleach.

The Oakland, California-based company is increasingly marketing the wipes for both the back-to-school season and fighting the flu, helping boost demand. While disinfectants also kills the Ebola virus, Clorox has been careful not to capitalize on consumers’ concerns, Chief Operating Officer Benno Dorer said.

“We go out of our way not to be opportunistic,” said Dorer, who is slated to take the chief executive officer job on Nov. 20. “We don’t want to fuel any fears.”

The wipes business is a bright spot for Clorox, which is mired in an industrywide slump for consumer products. Slow wage gains, higher commodity costs and currency fluctuations have hampered the company’s growth in recent quarters. Clorox, which also makes Glad trash bags and Fresh Step cat litter, expects sales to be little changed this year.

Glass Version

To get more consumers to use wipes, the company also has introduced versions for cleaning glass, bathrooms and heavy-duty jobs.

Clorox shares have gained 9.3 percent this year. The shares fell less than 1 percent to $101.35 at the close Tuesday in New York.

Americans’ Ebola fears have subsided in the month since the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to die of the disease on U.S. soil. Seven other Ebola patients treated at various American hospitals have survived. That includes New York doctor Craig Spencer, who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Guinea. He was declared free of the virus and released from Bellevue Hospital Center Tuesday after almost three weeks of treatment.

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2014-01-11
Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014 07:01 PM
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