What's going on?
Procter & Gamble (P&G) reported better-than-expected quarterly results late last week, as everyone finally let their hair down after a dry, dull, lifeless year.
What does this mean?
Not to rain on P&G’s parade, but investors saw the company’s better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit coming a mile off after strong updates from fellow consumer staples Coke and Pepsi earlier in the month. That’s probably why the company’s stock initially rose just 1% on Friday, even though analysts’ estimates hadn’t quite caught up yet. Its healthcare segment did especially well: customers have been stocking up on its premium personal care products, presumably to make sure they were all spruced up when they met real people in real places again.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Price hikes are in the offing.
P&G did point out that its costs had been rising, and the company said it was planning to hike the prices of brands like Tide, Charmin, and Pampers (tweet this). It’s hoping loyal customers will stick to the household names they know and love as prices rise, rather than switch to cheaper private label brands. It’s not alone either: rivals Kimberly-Clark and Unilever are essentially making the same bet.
For you personally: Have your cake and eat it too.
Investors have generally been expecting muted updates from economically resilient “defensive” companies like consumer staples, and blockbuster ones from economically sensitive “cyclical” firms. But you’d probably be better off investing across the market rather than trying to buy into sectors at exactly the right time, in case that rule of thumb ends up working against the companies. Just look at Caterpillar: the cyclical construction equipment-maker’s shares fell on Friday despite its stronger-than-expected earnings.