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Kimberly-Clark 3Q Profit Falls on Charge

DALLAS (AP) _ Kimberly-Clark Corp., the world's top maker of personal paper products including Kleenex and Scott tissue, said Monday its third-quarter profit fell 26 percent on charges related to streamlining its business, but results met Wall Street's expectations.

Earnings declined to $325.3 million, or 68 cents per share, from $441.3 million, or 89 cents per share, last year. Excluding the charges, earnings rose to $451.7 million, or 95 cents per share.

Sales climbed to $4 billion, up 6 percent from $3.78 billion a year earlier.

The results were in line with the company's guidance and Wall Street's expectations. Analysts had forecast adjusted earnings of 95 cents per share and net sales of $3.99 billion, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

Kimberly-Clark said sales were helped by continued strength in developing and emerging markets, along with double-digit percentage growth for key personal care and consumer tissue brands in North America and for diapers in Europe. Higher selling prices and currency benefits also added to the increase over last year's total.

The company pegged fourth-quarter earnings, before unusual items, at 94 cents to 96 cents per share _ just below the analysts' consensus estimate of 97 cents per share.

For the year, Kimberly-Clark said earnings will most likely be at the lower end of its previous forecast of $3.77 to $3.83 per share. In 2004, the company posted earnings from continuing operations of $3.55 per share. Analysts are looking for annual earnings of $3.79 per share.
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