Consumer goods/P&G's plans paying off

The consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) cheered Wall Street yesterday with evidence that its attempts to reignite growth by cutting costs and refocusing efforts on developed markets were paying off.

The business behind Pampers and Tide booked earnings of around $4.1bn (£2.5bn) in the three months to December, the second quarter of its 2013 fiscal year – significantly higher than the $1.7bn 12 months earlier.

Stripped of restructuring charges and other special items, the figure equated to $1.22 per share – well above market hopes of $1.11, as net sales climbed to a better-than-expected $22.2bn.

The upbeat figures will help P&G fight criticism from William Ackman, the activist investor who holds around a 1 per cent stake in the business. He has in the past blamed company bosses for P&G's sluggish performance relative to rivals such as Unilever.

But the company's bid to boost growth by cutting costs and revisiting its strategy in key markets such as the US – where it has been revamping its supply chain – while also expanding in new territories now appears to be paying off.