“Looking ahead, our plan for 2020 is to deliver top- and bottom-line growth consistent with our medium-term financial objectives while continuing to increase our growth investments and allocate capital in shareholder-friendly ways.” K-C chief executive Michael Hsu

Kimberly-Clark (K-C) has used its latest results to emphasize its plan to deliver top- and bottom-line growth in 2020.

It reported fourth quarter 2019 net sales of $4.6bn, while full-year 2019 net sales were $18.5bn, both even with the year-ago period.  

Net sales in 2020 are expected to increase 1% year-on-year.   

Mike Hsu, chairman and chief executive, said: “Our fourth quarter results capped off a year of excellent progress at Kimberly-Clark.  

“For the full year of 2019, we delivered 4% growth in organic sales and in adjusted earnings per share, both ahead of our original outlook for the year.  

“We also achieved strong margin improvements, generated $425m of cost savings and returned $2.2bn to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.  

“At the same time, we launched innovations, pursued our growth priorities and increased our investments behind our brands and in capabilities to position us for longer-term success.” 

He added that in 2020, the plan is to deliver top- and bottom-line growth whilst increasing its growth investments.  

“We remain very optimistic about our opportunities to deliver balanced and sustainable growth and create long-term shareholder value,” he said.  

The company’s fourth quarter 2019 operating results were impacted by changes in foreign currency exchange rates which reduced sales by 2% and business exits in conjunction with the 2018 Global Restructuring Programme which reduced sales slightly.  

In North America, organic sales increased 3% in both consumer products and in K-C Professional.  

Outside North America, organic sales rose 3% in developing and emerging markets and 1% in developed markets. 

Fourth quarter operating profit was $751m in 2019 and $639m in 2018. 

In the personal care segment, fourth quarter sales of $2.2bn increased 1%. Net selling prices increased 2% and product mix improved approximately 2%.  

Fourth quarter operating profit for the segment was $445m, an increase of 2%. Sales in North America increased 2%.  

In the consumer tissue segment, fourth quarter sales were $1.5bn, an increase of 1%. 

Net selling prices increased 3%, while volumes declined 1% and changes in currency rates reduced sales 1%.  

Fourth quarter operating profit of $281m increased 36%.  

The sector’s results benefited from higher net selling prices, cost savings and lower input costs.  

Sales in North America increased 4% while sales in developing and emerging markets decreased 2%.  

Sales in developed markets outside North America decreased 2%.