Clorox forecasts annual sales drop as pandemic boom fades, shares fall

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Clorox bleach are displayed for sale on the shelves of a Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas June 4, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

(Reuters) -Clorox Co on Tuesday signaled that the pandemic-driven boom in demand for its bleaches, wipes and other surface cleaners was receding due to vaccinations and easing of COVID-19 curbs, sending its shares down 9%.

The company forecast fiscal 2022 sales to fall between 2% and 6%, while analysts expected a decline of 1%, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The company had benefited from customers stockpiling cleaning products at the height of the pandemic last year. But with the opening up of the economy, sales in its mainstay health and wellness division slumped 17% in the fourth quarter.

The household business reported an 8% drop in sales, while total net sales fell to $1.80 billion from $1.98 billion, missing expectations of $1.92 billion.

The Oakland, California-based company also took a hit from rising commodity costs, with adjusted earnings of 95 cents per share missing expectations of $1.35 per share.

The rising raw material prices have forced companies from packaged goods makers to apparel sellers to raise prices this year. Clorox increased prices of its Glad products earlier in 2021 and warned of further hikes.

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