"We will continue to face significant challenges, and perhaps a higher degree of uncertainty than any of us have ever faced," Moeller said on the earnings call. "But we believe current consumer dynamics are integrated in mutually reinforcing strategies, and our focus on a few immediate priorities position us very well for the future."
P&G's two largest markets are the United States and China, two countries hit hardest by the pandemic. U.S. profits grew 10% over the year, and 19% in the most recent quarter, Moeller said. In China, P&G grew 8% for the year, and 14% for the quarter just completed.
"Our business was very strong before this last quarter, and before COVID," Moeller told Yahoo. "We had 6% growth in the first half of the fiscal year, and 6% in the back half, based on really strong innovation. And obviously, it has benefited even more during the COVID period, [where] we're seeing very strong demand for trusted, known brands in the [hygiene] space that consumers know will work."
The pandemic has fueled outsized demand for name-brand household staples under the P&G umbrella, including Tide laundry detergent and Charmin toilet paper. Per P&G's earnings report, organic sales of home care and cleaning products rose a record 14% last quarter, but the company expects slowing growth ahead.
"We certainly have our challenges," Moeller said. "But things, generally, are going well as we step up to serve consumers in this period of heightened need."
Unlike many competing international brands, P&G continues to offer guidance for its 2021 fiscal year, which it has just begun. "We think we can continue to grow at fairly attractive rates on both the top and bottom line, so we've offered guidance of 2% to 4% on the top line from an organic sales standpoint," Moeller said. "That should be a growth rate that enables us to continue building market share. And we're offering a guidance range in the bottom line of 3% to 7%."
During this period of sustained, rapid growth, P&G is launching three brands to accommodate demand. The first is a hand sanitizer called Safeguard. The second is a surface disinfectant called Microban 24, which protects a surface for 24 hours, even as it continues being touched, which Moeller calls "a real point of difference for that product." The company has also launched, in some channels, a natural insecticide called Zevo.
P&G has also made several smaller acquisitions, which Moeller said are doing "very well."
On the supply chain front, Moeller said P&G has managed to avoid the most common pitfalls plaguing other international companies. "We're fully operational in our 108 manufacturing plants around the world,” he said. “But it has been quite an adventure in terms of keeping everybody safe, which is our first priority, and which we're doing a great job of."
Despite its successes, P&G nonetheless predicts a modest growth of 2% to 4% for the fiscal year, lower than its initial forecast. Even so, any expectation of growth puts the brand ahead of many other corporations.
"There is a great innovation boom happening inside of P&G," Yahoo Finance editor-at-large Brian Sozzi said. "Magic Eraser and Powerwash [are] cool products. I finally found Microban in the store after a four-month wait; it is the white elephant of consumer products right now."
More so than other consumer products, P&G’s portfolio skews "upper income," Sozzi pointed out. "Higher-income households still have their jobs," he said. "They go out there, and buy some of these new products."