(Bloomberg) -- Clorox Co. plummeted the most in more than two decades after forecasting a sales decline in 2022 as pandemic-fueled demand for its cleaning products wanes.
The maker of disinfecting wipes and Glad trash bags posted fourth-quarter sales of $1.8 billion, missing the lowest analyst estimate. With consumers reallocating spending amid a reopening economy, Clorox expects organic sales to decline by 2% to 6% in the current fiscal year.
The stock fell 11% at 9:55 a.m. in New York on Tuesday, the biggest drop since 2000. The shares had already declined 10% in 2021 through Monday’s close.
Clorox’s guidance is a warning to investors about the bumpy road ahead for consumer-products companies that enjoyed a boom during the onset of the pandemic. The forecast reflects consumers’ new priorities, which now more closely resemble pre-pandemic trends as they spend less time at home and offices and businesses reopen.
A year after shoppers unexpectedly began stockpiling cleaning products, Clorox posted its steepest overall sales drop since at least 2012. Organic sales, which strip out the impact of items like acquisitions and currency swings, dropped 10% in the three months ending June 30.
Clorox saw sales decreases in all but one segment, with the largest decline coming from the health and wellness unit -- home of its disinfecting wipes. The company attributed a sales drop of 17% to lower shipments of cleaning products to retailers and other businesses as the unit saw a “more rapid than expected deceleration,” according to a statement.
“The largest factor impacting its sales performance in fiscal year 2022 to be consumer demand, which remains uncertain,” the company said.
What Bloomberg Intelligence Says
“Clorox’s 4Q total revenue miss shows that new CEO Linda Rendle needs to urgently address the balance of investment in effective innovation and advertising costs vs. the current inability to retain U.S. household penetration that was built up through the pandemic.”
-- Mike Dennis, testing and home-care analyst
The rising cost of freight and raw materials represents another challenge. The packaged-goods industry is seeing surging commodity expenses for ingredients from resin and pulp to aluminum. Last week, Procter & Gamble Co. warned investors of $1.9 billion in higher commodity and transportation costs in its fiscal-year guidance.
Inflationary pressures squeezed Clorox’s margins to their thinnest in more than a decade, with gross margin falling to 37.1% in the quarter on higher manufacturing and logistics costs.
(Updates share trading and adds details from report)
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