Tide detergent, a Procter & Gamble (P&G) product, is displayed on a shelf at a store.

New York - Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Wednesday notched a modest increase in profits as it contends with a lacklustre economy and tough pricing pressure from competitors.

Earnings came in $2.6 billion, up 1.7 percent from the prior year.

“P&G's third quarter results came in as we had expected,” said chief executive A.G. Lafley.

“We're operating in a slow-growth, highly competitive environment, which places even greater importance on strong innovation and productivity improvement.”

Net sales in four of P&G's five product divisions came in lower than last year. However, these declines were due in large part to unfavourable currency effects in Venezuela and some other countries.

When currency effects were stripped out, P&G scored sales gains in four of the five divisions.

P&G's strongest performance came in fabric care and home care, where the company said it was able to achieve higher pricing in some products. Organic sales in this division rose by six percent.

Results were mixed in other divisions. In health care, gains in oral care were offset by a drop in the number of cases of cold and flu.

Strong product innovation boosted baby care sales, but that was countered by competitive promotional activity in family care.

P&G's results translated into “core earnings,” which strips out currency effects and the impact of restructuring charges, of $1.04 per share, above the analyst forecast of $1.02.

Revenues were $20.56 billion, down from $20.60 billion a year ago.

Analysts had projected revenues of $20.68 billion.

Dow member P&G was down 0.4 percent to $81.24 in pre-market trade. - Sapa-AFP