Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble posted a net profit of US$2.71bn for the first quarter, a growth of 11% from $2.51bn in the previous year.

Net sales for the period to 31 March increased 9% to $20.5bn. Volume was up 4%, including a negative 1% impact from the Western European Tissue divestiture. Favourable foreign exchange added 5%.

“This quarter is yet another demonstration of the power of P&G’s product category and geographic diversification and disciplined focus on cash and cost productivity,” said A Lafley, CEO. “P&G delivered strong results in-line with long-term targets in a challenging economic and competitive environment with broad-based sales and share growth, earnings growth and overhead cost improvement.”

Operating profit was up 13% to $4.1bn. 

P&G expects earnings per share to be in the range of $3.48 to $3.50 for fiscal 2008, up from its previous guidance range of $3.46 to $3.50.

The company said it estimates operating margins to improve by 20 or more basis points for the year, as overhead productivity improvements, pricing and cost savings programmes should “more than offset the impact of higher materials and energy costs.”