The head of the Arab League warned Thursday that Israeli attempts to control highly sensitive religious sites in Jerusalem by force risk igniting a "religious war".Israel's actions are "playing with fire, and will only ignite a religious war and shift ...
Procter & Gamble, seeking to fend off a challenge from activist investor Nelson Peltz, Thursday pointed to better-than-expected earnings as evidence its makeover of the consumer products giant is on track.
P&G reported increased profits in the just-finished quarter and projected higher sales in fiscal 2018, a contrast to the sluggish sales of recent years.
Chief executive David Taylor, addressing analysts for the first time since Peltz launched his proxy campaign earlier this month, said brands like Tide detergent and Bounty paper towels continue to enjoy strong market positions.
And the company is addressing weaker businesses, such as the US shaving market and Chinese diaper market, he said.
"The plans we've put in place are accelerating our efforts and it takes time to do it right," he said.
"It will not only require continued focus as an organization but also that we prevent anything from derailing the work that is delivering improvement."
Neither Peltz nor his firm, Trian Fund Management, was mentioned by name during a 90-minute conference call with analysts, but the campaign shadowed Taylor's lengthy opening remarks and seemed to influence many of the polite, but pointed, questions.
Peltz signaled he was not impressed with the results, reiterating that P&G's return to shareholders has lagged most of its peers.
"Trian believes P&G needs to address the root causes of this consistent underperformance, including deteriorating market share across most of its categories and excessive cost and bureaucracy," the fund said in a news release.
"Trian believes P&G can once again be a best-in-class performer but it must take decisive action that goes above and beyond what it has previously announced, including committing to significantly changing its overly complex organizational structure and slow moving and insular culture."
- Better sales forecast -
The consumer products giant, with products like Old Spice deodorant and Charmin toilet paper, said fiscal fourth quarter profit jumped to $2.2 billion, up 13.5 percent compared to the same three months of the prior year.
But sales were essentially flat compared with the same period of 2016 at $16.1 billion.
P&G projected net sales growth of about three percent for fiscal 2018, as well as core earnings per share growth of five to seven percent.
That is an improvement over recent years, during which sales have been dampened by uneven global and price wars in the cut-throat consumer goods market
The company also returned $22 billion to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.
A 37-year veteran of P&G, Taylor was promoted to chief executive in 2015. Under his predecessor, AG Lafley, P&G sold off more than 100 brands in an effort to focus the company's innovation and marketing around core products such as Head & Shoulders shampoo, Pampers diapers and Oral B tooth care.
Taylor pleaded for time to let the plan work.
"We have prioritized long-term health of the business as the key priority," Taylor told analysts. "We need to create stronger positions for our brands."
Taylor said the company was taking an innovative approach to introducing premium products under established brands and touting its products through new technologies and groundbreaking ads, such as the "Share the Load" campaign in India for Ariel detergent that won plaudits for its message that men should help out with house chores.
And Taylor sought to rebut Peltz' criticism that P&G's corporate structure is bloated and insular, pointing to its hiring of outsiders to key executive roles and establishment of an in-house new ventures team.
"People underestimate P&G's outreach to outsiders," he said. "We are actively looking to build a culture of appropriate risk taking."
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The oldest film festival in the world is going big on nail-biters this year with thrillers dominating the race for Venice's coveted Golden Lion award, organisers said Thursday.
Stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are expected to be among the A-listers spotted posing on the red carpet or hopping into gondolas at the gala's 74th edition.
This year the festival, a key launchpad for heavyweight Oscar contenders, has gone big on US flicks in particular.
Hollywood heavyweight Ethan Hawke will star in director Paul Schrader's "First Reformed", a spine-chiller about members of a church who are tormented by the deaths of loved ones -- and harbouring a dark secret.
It goes up against hotly-awaited "mother!" by Darren Aronofsky, the US director behind the 2010 psychological horror film "Black Swan". Starring Jennifer Lawrence, the film tells the tale of a couple thrown into turmoil by uninvited guests.
And Britain's Martin McDonaugh -- best known for 2008 black comedy "In Bruges" -- will hope to suitably unnerve the jury with thriller "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", starring Frances McDormand as a middle-aged mother who challenges police after her daughter is murdered but no killer is found.
It's not all white-knuckle suspense: the beachside festival on the Lido island, which runs from July 30 to August 9 and is set to feature 21 world premieres, will kick off on a lighter tone.
Oscar-winning US director Alexander Payne's latest sci-fi comedy "Downsizing" will open the show, starring Matt Damon as a man who realises he would have a better life if he shrank, and Kirsten Wiig as his indecisive wife.
- Secrets, gangsters and exorcisms -
Damon also stars in Clooney's new flick "Suburbicon", a dark comedy written by the Coen brothers and set in 1959, in which he plays a father of a suburban family that discovers the neighbourhood's dark underbelly of violence.
Teaser pictures released by Paramount show a very blonde Julianne Moore co-starring in Clooney's sixth directorial effort.
Chief juror Annette Bening and her panel of experts -- including filmmakers Michel Franco and Edgar Wright and actress Rebecca Hall -- are likely to be already lusting after the latest by Mexican fantasy master Guillermo del Toro.
The Cold War-era love fairytale story "The Shape of Water" by the man behind "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006) stars Sally Hawkins as a custodial worker in a government laboratory who discovers and smuggles out a top-secret experiment.
Two documentaries are also in the running: Frederick Wiseman's "Ex Libris, New York Public Library" and Ai WeiWei's "Human Flow", which was filmed in 23 countries and explores the staggering scale of today's global migration issue.
Tunisian-French director Abdellatif Kechiche will bring "Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno", a 1980s coming-of-age story, while Italy's Paolo Virzi will premiere "The Leisure Seeker", starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.
Out of competition but by no means less eagerly awaited, Britain's Stephen Frears will debut "Victoria & Abdul", about Queen Victoria's unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk, starring Judi Dench, Ali Fazal and Eddie Izzard.
"Exorcist" director William Friedkin delves into the story of a real-life exorcism with his documentary "The Devil and the Father Amorth" while Netflix reveals its first Italian original series "Suburra", about gangsters and politicians in Rome.
Last but not least, US greats Robert Redford and Jane Fonda will be celebrated with Golden Lion lifetime achievement awards.
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