Washday Blues: Profits in a spin at P & G

Profits in a spin at P & G

For decade after decade Procter & Gamble, the household-products giant, has never failed to show financial results as bright as the clothes in its detergent ads. But when the Cincinnati-based company hung out its latest profit statement last week, there was dirty laundry on the line. P & G had suffered its first annual earnings decline since 1952, posting fiscal 1985 profits of $635 million, down 29% from the previous year.

The traditionally aggressive P & G is paying the price for a spell of complacency during which hardworking competitors scrubbed away at the dominance of its flagship brands. Crest's share...

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