Shares of Clorox Co., Oakland, Calif., opened more than 14% lower, falling to 88-15/16 early Thursday after the company issued an earnings report citing slower sales of several brands. Clorox said fourth-quarter earnings actually increased 11% over a year ago, to $390 million, but sales were down 2.6% to $1.1 billion, and earnings per share of 96 were 5 under analyst estimates. CEO Craig Sullivan blamed declining sales on results of unwinding heavy trade promotion by First Brands, acquired earlier this year, along with sales declines for Brita water filtration systems, Tilex Fresh Shower everyday shower cleaner and Combat insecticides caused by competitors' heavy promotional selling. Brita sales were down not only for the quarter but also for the entire fiscal year, Clorox said. The company last week announced it's moving Brita along with other brands handled by Y&R Advertising, San Francisco, to DDB
Worldwide effective Jan. 1. Brita was the largest of the Clorox accounts handled by Y&R.
Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.