Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing to buy battery and shaving-products maker Gillette Co. for $55-billion in stock, according to published reports.
If approved by regulators, the acquisition would create the world's largest consumer-products company, coupling Gillette's Duracell batteries, Right Guard deodorant and razor brands with P&G's Tide detergent, Clairol and Pantene hair products and Folgers coffee.
The deal was to be announced today, the New York Times reported on its Web site, quoting executives close to the deal. The Wall Street Journal reported that Procter was near a deal for Gillette.
A P&G spokeswoman, Linda Ulrey, declined to comment on the reports Thursday night. Gillette officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
The deal, as reported by both papers, calls for P&G to pay about 0.975 of its shares, or $54, for each Gillette share. That represents an 18 percent premium for Gillette, which closed at $45.85 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. P&G shares fell 12 cents to close at $55.32.
P&G shares have risen nearly a third since 2003, as the company's strong stable of global brands has powered consistent profits and sales growth.
That rise has given the consumer-products behemoth plenty of stock currency to pursue acquisitions.
Company executives were scheduled to meet with analysts today in New York after releasing the company's quarterly earnings on Thursday, a day earlier than planned.
P&G's earnings increased 12 percent for the quarter ended Dec. 31, narrowly beating Wall Street's forecast, as the company benefited from strong sales of beauty care, household, and baby and family products.
The company also raised its earnings projections for this fiscal year.
P&G reported Thursday that net income was $2.04-billion, or 74 cents per share, exceeding the 72-cent forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.
Global sales totaled $14.45-billion, a 7 percent increase.
A year ago, P&G earned $1.8-billion, or 65 cents per share, on worldwide sales of $13.2-billion.