US consumer goods giant Proctor & Gamble posted a drop in third quarter profits and sales today (30 April), hit by unfavourable foreign exchange rates and a drop in demand for its products.

Net earnings for the quarter dropped 4% to US$2.16bn, but on a per-share basis rose to 84 cents from 82 cents.

Net sales declined 8% to $18.42bn for the quarter, driven by unfavourable foreign exchange and lower shipment volume. Organic sales, which exclude the impacts of acquisitions, divestitures and foreign exchange, edged up 1% for the quarter.

Every product category was impacted by exchange rates, with a hit to sales ranging from 6% to 12%.

“We delivered good third quarter results in a very challenging macroeconomic environment,” said chairman of the board and CEO A.G. Lafley. “We grew organic sales and EPS, maintained global value share and generated strong cash flow. Our near term efforts are focused on enhancing consumer value, driving productivity and simplification, and making the necessary investments for the future.”

For the 2009 fiscal year, P&G said it expects organic sales to grow by 2-3%. Net sales are expected to be down 2-4% driven primarily by unfavourable foreign exchange of about 5%.

The company said it is “comfortable” with analysts’ current earnings per share estimate of $4.22 with a range of $4.20 to $4.25.