P&G moves up earnings date to woo analysts

Procter & Gamble's headquarters building in Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble apparently can’t wait to tell analysts how it is trying to jump-start profits now that it is under threat from Nelson Peltz.

It is moving up reporting of its annual financial results by a few days.

Only days after hedge fund boss Peltz announced he will seek a P&G seat on the board of directors, P&G shifted the date of its results to July 27 from Aug. 2. The move will free P&G executives to speak at length to Wall Street analysts about the company’s turnaround progress.

Cincinnati-based P&G, which is more than five years into a turnaround effort, is under pressure by Wall Street to jump start lagging sales and profit growth. Early this year, that pressure intensified when Peltz’s Trian Fund Management reportedly acquired a $3.3 billion stake in the company. Trian has a track record of buying big stakes in troubled company’s then demanding big changes to restore growth.


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Local experts say P&G could reveal everything from modestly improving results to new cost cuts designed to neutralize Peltz’s complaints the company is “bureaucratic.”.

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“This is P&G going on the offensive,” said Terry Kelly, principal at Bartlett & Co. In downtown Cincinnati. “But there aren’t too many rabbits they can pull out of their hat.”.

Kelly said P&G could practically swat away Peltz’s overtures, if it announced strong enough financial results and issued an optimistic growth forecast for the newly-started fiscal year that will end June 30, 2018.

Less likely, P&G could announce a new round of job cuts that would steal Peltz’s thunder if he was planning to make similar demands. Or P&G, with $14 billion in cash on its books, could decide to announce a sizable stock repurchase plan that could goose shares.

Kelly was highly skeptical another major divestiture, a flashy acquisition or a dividend increase might be in the works.

Leon Loewenstine, managing partner and chief investment strategist at Riverpoint Capital Management downtown, thought P&G just wants to get its side of the story told amid the growing battle with Peltz.

He doesn’t think P&G has any master plan for next week besides putting the best face on modestly improved results.

“I don’t know why they moved up the reporting date,” Loewenstine said. “I think they just want to get their numbers out and get people to stop speculating.”.

Loewenstine said the bottom line is P&G investors want to see sales growth again and any other announcement by the company will be seen as a gimmick to distract them. He said an acquisition, dividend increase or even an oversized share repurchase plan could backfire and hurt the stock.

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P&G cited the company’s simplified structure after shedding more than 100 lagging brands for speeding up the results.

Releasing the financials will place CEO David Taylor in front of Wall Street analysts just 10 days after hedge fund boss Nelson Peltz turned up the heat for more influence over the beleaguered company.

Peltz’s Trian Fund Management set the stage for a proxy fight this fall at P&G’s annual meeting, seeking a seat on the board of directors. Peltz cited P&G’s sluggish sales and profit rebound in recent years and said the board needed another outsider’s perspective.

Follow Alexander Coolidge on Twitter: @alexcoolidge.

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