Fourth quarter sales increased to U.S. $102,286,000, from $101,460,000 in the same period of the prior year. Net income for the quarter was $6,457,000 or $0.22 per diluted share, compared with $4.35 million or $0.15 per diluted share for the same period a year earlier, an increase in net income of 48 percent.
Net sales for the 12 months increased 2.6 percent to a record $458.8 million in fiscal 2003, versus $447.3 million in fiscal 2002. Net income rose to a record $38.7 million or 33-percent higher than the $29.2 million reported in fiscal 2002. Net income per diluted share increased 31 percent to a record $1.31 in fiscal 2003 compared to $1.00 per diluted share in fiscal 2002.
Gerald J. Rubin, chairman, CEO, and president, commented on the results for the quarter, stating: "We are very pleased with our record results for the fourth quarter and year ended Feb. 28, 2003. We are encouraged that our business has again been able to achieve very positive results in a quarter impacted by difficult winter weather conditions, and a worldwide retail shopping slowdown. The fourth quarter is traditionally one of the company's slowest selling quarters, so we are pleased with our strong results. We anticipate the retail environment will continue to be challenging for the foreseeable future, but we will not relax from our commitment to meet the needs of our retail partners and the end consumer.
"Total sales for the fourth quarter were $102.3 million, up slightly from prior year at $101.5 million. Quarterly sales of the Company, exclusive of our Tactica segment, increased by 22 percent to $89.7 million. This growth was led primarily from sales of the six brands acquired from Procter & Gamble Company during our third quarter. Excluding the sales of the six newly acquired brands and Tactica sales, Helen of Troy sales increased 9.7 percent. Fourth quarter Tactica sales were $12.6 million and International sales contributed $8.0 million. Brands leading the sales increases in our North American segment this past quarter and year were Vidal Sassoon, Dr. Scholl's and Wave Rage. Our Professional distribution channel continued to contribute double digit growth, led by our Hot Tools and Wigo brands. Sales in the United Kingdom and France led sales growth in our International segment.
"Gross margins for the fourth quarter were 44.2 compared to 46.0 percent for the prior year. Full year margins were 46.0 percent versus 46.6 percent in the prior year. Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses declined for the quarter to 34.7 percent of net sales from 39.3 percent for the prior year's quarter, while full-year SG&A expenses declined to 34.5 percent from 37.3 percent. Fourth quarter operating margins improved significantly to 9.5 percent, from 6.7 percent for the fourth quarter last year. Full-year operating margins increased to 11.5 percent from 9.3 percent.
"Based on our solid performance for fiscal year 2003, we expect sales for fiscal year 2004, ending Feb. 29, 2004, to be in the range of $500 to $515 million or approximately 9 to 12 percent above the prior year sales of $459 million. Fiscal 2004 first-quarter earnings are expected to be $0.24 to $0.25 per diluted share, an increase of 9 to 14 percent from last year's first-quarter earnings per share of $0.22 per diluted share. Full-year earnings per share for fiscal 2004 are anticipated to be in the range of $1.45 to $1.50, or an increase of 11 to 15 percent above the prior year's $1.31 per share. " He continued: "Sales have increased in 33 of the past 36 quarters, with net income increasing in 32 of these 36 quarters, demonstrating consistent financial performance over the past nine years. Next year sales are expected to surpass $500 million for the first time in our company's 35-year history. Based upon the momentum we have experienced over the past year, and our expectation for that momentum to continue through the current year, we are anticipating fiscal year 2004 to be another record year in both sales and earnings. We are also pleased to announce that Tactica International has licensed the Singer® trademark for North America (United States and Canada), to manufacture and distribute floor care products."
The company will conduct a teleconference in conjunction with today's release at 11 a.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.