Colgate-Palmolive Co., rumored to be a takeover target recently after British investor Sir James Goldsmith purchased a stake in the company, said yesterday it will take a $114 million, or $1.14 a share, after-tax charge to earnings in the fourth quarter to pay for restructuring of certain manufacturing operations.
The write-off will result in a loss for the quarter and will reduce net income for the year, the company said. The size of the charge to earnings before tax benefits is $174 million, Colgate President Reuben Mark said in a statement. The company is a major worldwide producer and distributor of consumer products, including Colgate and Ultra Brite toothpastes, Palmolive dishwashing liquid, Ajax cleaner, Fab, Fresh Start and Dynamo detergents and Irish Spring soap.
The company did not say in the announcement how many employes might lose their jobs as a result of the restructuring, nor did it specify the other changes it will make. The announcement was made after the stock market closed yesterday, and Colgate-Palmolive stock closed at 24 3/8, up 1/4.
The company said it is taking the charge to earnings "to help Colgate-Palmolive achieve improved long-term productivity, significantly lower overall manufacturing costs and a better competitive position for all of our core businesses. Colgate and several of its subsidiaries will restructure certain manufacturing operations in the United States and abroad.
"This strategic restructuring is designed to significantly strengthen our position in the highly competitive markets in which we operate," Mark said in a statement. "Clearly, achievement of low-cost production is a key element in increasing our profitability."
Mark said the company's financial position is strong and will not be materially affected by the earnings charge. He said the company has invested more than $400 million in new plant and equipment in the last two years.
Colgate-Palmolive said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month that its board had amended its bylaws to make it more difficult to call special meetings, presumably an antitakeover provision. Under the change, only Colgate's chief executive, president or secretary will be permitted to call special meetings at the request of a majority of the board.
The company also paid a dividend earlier this year of common stock rights that could be used to help fight a takeover attempt, a tactic known in merger and acquisition parlance as an "exploding poison pill."
The stock has traded as high as 26 1/2 amid takeover rumors.
Meanwhile, Goldsmith has informed the Federal Trade Commission that he wants to double his stake in Colgate-Palmolive to more than 10 percent.