Lysol Sales Are Surging
(Bloomberg) -- The viral pandemic sweeping the globe sent Lysol-maker Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc to its strongest start to the year in recent memory.
Sales jumped 13.5% in the first quarter, crushing estimates and prompting the Slough, England-based company to raise its outlook for the year. The shares rose the most in six weeks.
As demand soars, Reckitt is ramping up production, Chief Executive Officer Laxman Narasimhan said on a conference call. “To give you one example: In the coming month of May -- in one month -- we’ll produce all the sanitizers we produced in 2019, for the whole year.”
Disinfectants became an object of social media fascination last week after President Donald Trump spoke of their effectiveness in killing the virus on surfaces, and even mused over whether cleansers could be used to treat Covid-19.
That prompted Reckitt to take the unusual step of publishing a statement warning that “under no circumstance” should its disinfectants be administered into the human body, through injection, ingestion or any other route.
Reckitt has pushed its factories to meet unprecedented demand as the pandemic spread from Asia to Europe and the U.S. Lysol sales surged by more than 50% in North America, buoyed in March as the health crisis became more pronounced in the region.
At the company’s over-the-counter medicine business, sales grew by about a third during the quarter, driven by demand for cold and flu remedies such as Mucinex, which work to relieve some of the same early flu-like symptoms of the Covid-19 disease.
Narasimhan said it’s too soon to say whether the increase in demand seen in March and April will be sustained, and warned that the coronavirus could create further challenges in some markets.
”As consumers operate in this kind of environment, over time, behaviors become quite ingrained” he said. “Our expectation is that there’s a reinforcement of the idea of hygiene being the foundation of health.”
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