* Q4 EPS $0.83 vs est $0.80
* Q4 sales tops street
* Sees 2010 EPS $3.93-$4.00 vs est $3.88
* Says in excellent position to pursue buys (Recasts; adds details)
BANGALORE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Church & Dwight Co Inc (CHD.N) reported better-than-expected quarterly results as the maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda’s margins benefitted from better pricing and lower commodity costs, and forecast a strong 2010 profit.
For 2010, the company, which also a makes Trojan condoms and SpinBrush battery-powered toothbrushes, projected earnings of $3.93 to $4.00 a share. Analysts had expected a profit of $3.88 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“We expect continued margin expansion in 2010 which will be driven largely by the efficiencies from our new liquid laundry detergent facility in Pennsylvania,” Chief Executive James Craigie said in a statement.
Craigie said the company is in “an excellent position” to pursue acquisition opportunities. As of Dec. 31, Church & Dwight, which has historically sought takeovers, had cash, equivalents and securities of $447.1 million.
The company also expects to make a significant investment in 2010 to support a global information systems project that will strengthen cost management capabilities, Craigie said.
For the fourth quarter, net income rose to $52.8 million, or 74 cents a share, from $44.2 million, or 62 cents a share, a year ago.
Excluding restructuring charges, the company earned 83 cents a share, surpassing Wall Street expectations of 80 cents a share.
Revenue rose 4 percent to $670.8 million, topping analyst estimates of $660.6 million.
Strong international and household product sales tempered weakness owing to continuing lower U.S. milk prices in Church & Dwight’s smaller and less profitable specialty products division.
Gross margin increased to 42.5 percent from 39.4 percent last year, which was also helped by cost controls.
Marketing spending as a portion of sales, however, increased 120 basis points to 13.9 percent.
Household goods giants, Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) and Colgate-Palmolive Co (CL.N), have spurred sales of their brand name products by persuading consumers to spend a little more with a bigger investment in advertising. [ID:nN28226708]
Shares of the Princeton, New Jersey-based company closed at $60.57 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Viraj Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D’Silva) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))