Procter

US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble reported Wednesday quarterly earnings that topped market forecasts and raised its profit forecast for the full year.

P&G posted net income of $2.56 billion for its fiscal third quarter on sales of $20.7 billion, up from $2.41 billion in profit and $20.2 billion in sales in the year-ago period.

Earnings excluding special items were 99 cents per share in the three months ended March 31, better than the 96 cents average estimated by analysts.

The maker of Gillette razors, Pampers diapers and Pantene shampoos, as well as a wide range of consumer products, said it had strong sales in the United States and continued to benefit from cost-cutting.

"We delivered another quarter of steady progress," said Bob McDonald, P&G chairman, president, and chief executive.

"Top-line growth was in line with our expectations. Market shares improved broadly. Strong cost savings enabled us to exceed our outlook on the bottom line."

McDonald said the company expected further improvement in the fourth quarter as productivity increased and planned to repurchase $6 billion in stock, at the high end of its estimated range.

P&G raised its full-year forecast, increasing the low end of the range of core earnings per share guidance by two cents, to $3.96 to $4.04, up three percent to up five percent compared with the prior year earnings per share of $3.85.

P&G shares were down 1.6 percent at $82.54 in pre-market trading in New York.

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