Heavy cold season helps Reckitt beat forecasts

LONDON Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:58am GMT

Products produced by Reckitt Benckiser; Vanish, Finish, Dettol and Harpic, are seen in London February 12, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

Products produced by Reckitt Benckiser; Vanish, Finish, Dettol and Harpic, are seen in London February 12, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

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LONDON (Reuters) - Reckitt Benckiser beat full-year earning expectations as the maker of Strepsils and Mucinex benefited from an unusually heavy U.S. cold and flu season in the final quarter.

Full-year adjusted earnings per share was 264.4 pence, up 7 percent, and ahead of Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates of 246.8 pence and a company-supplied forecast of 249 pence.

An early and unusually intense flu season in North America has pushed up business for hospitals, pharmacies and the makers of tissues and cold remedies.

Chief Executive Rakesh Kapoor has increasingly shifted the company's focus to fast-growing emerging markets and to brands in the health and hygiene category, such as Durex, Gaviscon and Dettol.

He said on Wednesday that the company aimed to derive half of its net revenue in its core business from emerging markets by 2015, a year earlier than it had previously targeted, while its health and hygiene products would account for 72 percent of net revenue.

He said the company would target revenue growth of between 5 and 6 percent for 2013, including acquisitions and disposals announced to date.

Although Reckitt also makes cleaning products such as Cillit Bang, the company is increasingly positioning itself as a health and hygiene firm, with ex-Smith & Nephew's Adrian Hennah taking the CFO role from the beginning of the year and a string of acquisitions building up this side of the business.

At the end of last year, Reckitt saw off competition from Germany's Bayer to secure U.S. vitamin maker Schiff Nutrition Inc for $1.4 billion (893.7 million pounds), gaining access to the vitamin and supplement market for the first time.

On Tuesday, it announced it a $482 million licensing deal with Bristol Myers-Squibb for Latin American health brands such as cough reliever Naldecon and painkiller Tempra, with an option to buy after three years.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Paul Sandle)

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