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Church & Dwight in Market for Acquisitions, CEO Craigie Says

Church & Dwight Co.’s best option to create shareholder value is through acquisitions as consumer spending remains weak, Chief Executive Officer James Craigie said.

While the maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda and Trojan condoms is well positioned to appeal to low-income and high-income shoppers, the ailing economy provides deal opportunities, Craigie told investors today at a conference hosted by Barclays Capital in Boston.

“The absolute best way for us to create value for shareholders is through acquisitions,” he said, noting that Church & Dwight’s last large purchase was in July 2008 when it paid $380 million for Del Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of Orajel baby teething products.

“As pessimistic as I am about the economy, I’ve never been more optimistic about the M&A environment” as companies anticipating a slump look to sell businesses, Craigie said.

Consumer spending power is “as bad as ever, and I think it’s going to get worse,” Craigie said, with job losses possibly climbing as governments cut back to balance budgets.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if unemployment goes over 10 percent within the next six to 12 months,” Craigie said. “This is as ugly or uglier business environment I’m seeing than ever in the past.”

Church & Dwight, based in Princeton, New Jersey, rose 25 cents to $43.11 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have advanced 25 percent this year.

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