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Clorox shuts down operations in Venezuela over goverment restrictions

Clorox bleach. Its manufacturer, The Clorox Co., said

Clorox bleach. Its manufacturer, The Clorox Co., said on Sept. 22, 2014, that it is pulling out of Venezuela because of economic, social and political unrest. Credit: Handout

OAKLAND, Calif. - Clorox is shutting down all operations in Venezuela, citing restrictions by the government, supply disruptions and economic uncertainty.

Shares were up 7 percent in midday trading Monday.

The consumer products company said that for almost three years its affiliate, Corporación Clorox de Venezuela SA, had to sell more than two-thirds of its products at prices frozen by the Venezuelan government. Over that same time span, there was a sharp rise in inflation that resulted in significantly higher costs for Clorox.

The Clorox Co. affiliate met repeatedly met with government authorities and said it had expected significant price hikes would be allowed earlier in 2014.

However, Clorox said that the price increases that were approved were "nowhere near sufficient" and that the company would be forced to continue selling products at a loss

Clorox, which makes Pine-Sol, Glad bags, wraps and containers and Kingsford charcoal, said it is now looking to sell its assets in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan economy has grown unstable since the death last year of its longtime president, Hugo Chávez.

Inflation has been raging and economists have recently begun talking about the possibility of a government default. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has clamped down on large protests, has told foreign creditors that his government will make good on a $4.5 billion foreign debt payment due next month.

The turmoil is taking its toll on U.S. corporations, however.

American and Delta Air Lines are cutting flights in the country and another consumer products company, Procter & Gamble, cut its profit outlook, citing the fluctuating currencies of Venezuela and other developing countries.

The Oakland, California company also maintained its fiscal 2015 guidance for earnings from continuing operations between $4.35 and $4.50 per share and revenue to be about flat.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of $4.42 per share. Shares were up $6.47 at $97 at midday Monday.

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