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Procter & Gamble 3rd-quarter net income edges up on cost cuts, revenue slips

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Procter & Gamble's fiscal third-quarter net income rose 2 per cent as it cut costs to offset sluggish sales in categories like beauty and family products.

The world's largest consumer product maker's adjusted earnings topped analysts' estimates, but revenue fell short. Investors were looking for stronger growth and shares fell slightly in morning trading.

Since CEO A.G. Lafley returned to the company in May, Procter & Gamble Co. has focused on its most profitable markets and products and on introducing new products. It sold off most of its pet care business earlier this month for $2.9 billion.

"We're operating in a slow-growth, highly competitive environment, which places even greater importance on strong innovation and productivity improvement," Lafley said in a statement.

The Cincinnati-based company's turnaround plan also includes cutting costs to save $10 billion by fiscal 2016. It said it is redesigning its supply chain in North America, including enabling more of its 35 manufacturing facilities to make more than one category of goods and bringing them closer to its customers and consumers.

For the three months ended March 31, the maker of Tide detergent and Gillette razors earned $2.61 billion, or 90 cents per share. That compares with $2.57 billion, or 88 cents per share, last year.

Excluding restructuring charges and other items, earnings were $1.04 per share. Analysts' forecast $1.02 per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue totalled $20.56 billion, down slightly from last year's $20.6 billion on foreign currency fluctuations. Wall Street expected $20.68 billion.

P&G maintained guidance for a rise of 3 per cent to 5 per cent in full-year adjusted earnings.

Citi Investment Research analyst Wendy Nicholson said that the global marketplace is sluggish and intensely competitive, so Procter & Gamble's results are "pretty darned impressive."

The stock fell 67 cents to $79.94 in midday trading. The stock is flat for the year.

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