US group Procter & Gamble, which sells over 300 consumer, household and pharmaceutical goods, turned in a pleasing set of results for the third quarter of 2005, with sales growing 8% and earnings per share rising 10% compared to the year-ago period, despite the impact of a record-breaking hurricane season.

P&G’s health care segment performed well in the quarter, with double-digit volume, sales and earnings growth. Health care net sales were 13% higher at $2.08 billion, driven by an 11% rise in unit volume on the continued success of the firm's over-the-counter version of AstraZeneca's anti-ulcerant, Prilosec (omeprazole), the osteoporosis drug Actonel (risedronate), sold in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis, and oral care products. Prilosec OTC volume was up more than double over the like, year-earlier quarter, though this was largely driven by accelerated turnover ahead of price increase in September, the group noted.

The company delivered EPS of $0.77 for the quarter, beating Wall Street expectations by $0.01. Furthermore, excluding the one-time gain of $0.03 from the sale of its juice business in the prior year, earnings per share actually rose 15%, marking solid organic growth of the business. Results were driven by a strong increase in net sales, up 8% to $14.79 billion.

Commenting on the results, chief executive AG Lafley said: "We're off to a good start with broad-based organic top-line growth. P&G's balanced business and geographic breadth has again demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent, reliable net sales and earnings per share growth in good and challenging times alike."

For the 2006 fiscal year, P&G has forecast net sales to grow 17%-19%, including 14%-15% growth resulting from acquisitions and divestitures. For the fourth quarter of this year, the company is expecting net sales growth of 23%-26%, lifted by 20%-21% growth from acquisitions and sales.