"Clorox people around the world delivered solid results this fiscal year," said Chairman and CEO Don Knauss. "We grew sales in all four segments behind product innovation across multiple brands and delivered strong gross margin expansion."
Commenting on the company's fourth-quarter results, Knauss said, "While sales results came in slightly lower than anticipated, I feel good about our plans to address the competitive pressures we're facing, including increased merchandising activity as well as product innovation scheduled to launch in fiscal year 2014."
Volume for the fourth quarter decreased 3%, primarily driven by declines in the company's home care, charcoal and international businesses.
Cleaning (Laundry, Home Care, Professional Products) saw a 4% volume decrease and 1% sales decrease. Volume declines for the segment were driven primarily by lower shipments of Clorox disinfecting wipes due to increased competitive activity and the resulting decrease in merchandising support. Laundry volume was flat reflecting increased shipments of Clorox bleach, driven by strong category growth following last year's conversion to a new, concentrated formula, offset by lower shipments of Clorox 2 due to declines in market share. The Professional Products business continued to deliver strong volume growth primarily driven by record shipments of cleaning products. The variance between volume and sales reflects the benefits of favorable product mix and price increases implemented earlier this fiscal year behind innovation in spray cleaners.
Lifestyle (which includes natural personal care) had flat volume and a 2% sales increase. Burt's Bees volume was flat due to a comparison to double-digit growth in the year-ago quarter behind the pipeline build of güd products. Retail consumption for Burt's Bees products was up double-digits in the quarter.
Volume for fiscal year 2013 was flat versus the year-ago period, reflecting gains in the professional products, food, Burt's Bees and homecare businesses, offset by declines in the charcoal, international and Brita businesses. Sales grew 3% with gains in all four segments, reflecting strong product innovation and the benefit of price increases, partially offset by unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates.
Clorox continues to anticipate sales growth for fiscal 2014 in the range of 2-4%, with the first half of the fiscal year at the lower end or potentially below that range.