Kimberly-Clark Corp. reported flat fourth-quarter net income as its personal care and tissue revenue increased. The maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers also unveiled plans to restructure its pulp and tissue business.
Kimberly-Clark also raised its dividend 6 percent Tuesday and plans to buy back $1.5 billion in shares this year.
The restructuring, which will involve streamlining, selling or closing five or six plants, comes as the company contends with rising costs for wood pulp and oil, major materials for its products.
The company said the restructuring will involve selling, streamlining or closing five to six manufacturing plants. The company did not say how many jobs the process would affect. A call to the company was not immediately returned.
Its stock added $1.28, or 2 percent, to $65.25 in premarket trading. The shares have traded between $58.25 and $67.24 over the last year.
Kimberly-Clark earned $492 million, or $1.20 per share, in the fourth quarter compared with $492 million, or $1.17 per share, a year earlier. The company had more shares outstanding in last year's quarter.
Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 2 percent to $5.08 billion from $4.98 billion.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast earnings of $1.15 per share on revenue of $5.05 billion.
At the personal care unit, revenue climbed 2 percent to $2.2 billion. In North America, feminine care volumes increased at a double-digit rate due to the extension of its U by Kotex product line. Double-digit volume growth was also reported in adult care because of new products for the Poise and Depend brands. Baby wipes volume also climbed at a double-digit rate.
Consumer tissue revenue rose 4 percent to $1.7 billion. North American revenue climbed 3 percent as net selling prices rose and the company cut sheet counts.
Health care revenue also declined as net selling prices dropped and the company lost the benefit from last year's swine flu scare, which fueled sales of face masks.
Kimberly-Clark expects the restructuring of its pulp and tissue businesses, which will be done over two years, to cost $280 million to $420 million and raise its operating profit by at least $75 million a year.
Kimberly-Clark anticipates that this will lower its 2013 revenue by about $250 million to $300 million.
Kimberly-Clark also plans to shed some products, mostly nonbranded items, and transfer some production to lower-cost plants to boost profitability.
Kimberly-Clark said its board increased its quarterly dividend to 70 cents from 66 cents. The dividend will be paid on April 4 to shareholders of record on March 4.
For the full year, net income fell 2 percent to $1.84 billion, or $4.45 per share, from $1.88 billion, or $4.52 per share. Adjusted earnings were $4.68 per share, which excludes a first-quarter charge for a balance sheet change in Venezuela related to that country's currency devaluation.
Revenue increased 3 percent to $19.75 billion.
Kimberly-Clark, based in Dallas, predicts 2011 adjusted earnings of $4.90 to $5.05 per share, excluding costs related to the restructuring. Analysts expect $5.03 per share for the year.
The consumer products company expects annual revenue will climb between 3 percent and 4 percent.
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