Reckitt beats forecasts despite chief's shock exit

City A.M. Reporter
Reckitt Benckiser beat first-quarter earnings forecasts – boosted by its SSL recent acquisition after last week's surprise news that chief executive Bart Becht was to retire sent its shares tumbling.

The British maker of Cillit Bang cleaners and Nurofen painkillers which took over Durex condoms and Scholl sandals maker SSL late last year, said it was sticking to its financial goals for 2011 as it aimed to outperform its markets.

Reckitt is looking to offset increased costs for inputs such as crude oil, plastics, palm oil and rubber with price rises and cost savings, and looks for growth in emerging markets as it faces tough markets in Europe and North America which account for nearly two-thirds of group sales.

"Reckitt Benckiser got off to a strong start in the first quarter of 2011," said Becht in a results statement.

The group, which also makes Air Wick air fresheners, Vanish fabric cleaners and Finish dishwash products, reported first-quarter earnings rose 10 percent to 52.2 pence a share, beating a company-compiled consensus of 51.8p.

Reckitt reiterated its 2011 goals to see underling sales to rise four per cent and profit growth above that from its businesses, excluding SSL but including its Suboxone drugs unit. First quarter sales and profit on this basis rose five and ten per cent.