Personal care appliance maker Helen of Troy Limited reported record sales and net earnings for the third quarter and 9 months ended Nov. 30, 2004.
Sales in the third quarter increased 24 percent to a record U.S. $205.7 million from sales of $165.4 million for the third quarter of the prior year. Third-quarter record net earnings increased by 24 percent to $31.1 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, from $25.1 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, for the same period a year earlier, including a $(0.03) per diluted share loss from the discontinued operations of Tactica International, Inc.
Income from continuing operations increased by 20 percent to $31.1 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, from $25.9 million, or $0.81 per diluted share, for the same period a year earlier.
Nine-months sales increased 25 percent to a record $453.9 million from sales of $362.0 million in the previous year. Fiscal year-to-date net earnings increased 22 percent to $64.5 million, or $1.98 per diluted share, versus $53.0 million, or $1.71 per diluted share, from the comparable period last fiscal year, including a $(0.01) and $(0.07) per diluted share loss from the discontinued operations of Tactica International, Inc. respectively.
Income from continuing operations increased 17 percent to $64.7 million, or $1.99 per diluted share, versus $55.3 million, or $1.78 per diluted share, in the comparable period last fiscal year. Last year's 9 months earnings included a one time non-operating gain from litigation proceeds in the pre-tax amount of $2.6 million or $0.08 per diluted share.
"I am extremely pleased with our excellent sales and earnings results during the third quarter and first 9 months of this fiscal year," stated Gerald Rubin, chairman, CEO, and president. "Sales remained strong this holiday selling season. This is the first quarter of our 37-year history in which sales have exceeded $200 million.
"Sales leaders for the third quarter included domestic and international retail personal care, household consumer products, and grooming, skin, and hair care products," he continued. "This quarter marks 38 of the past 43 quarters in which sales and earnings from continuing operations exceeded the prior year results."
Mr. Rubin also said that gross margins for the quarter increased 2.5 percentage points to 48 percent of sales from 45.5 percent of sales in the third quarter of last year. Operating income increased $11.1 million or 35 percent to $42.8 million or 20.8 percent of sales, from $31.7 million or 19.2 percent of sales for the previous year's third quarter.
"For the fourth quarter ending February 28, 2005, we currently expect overall sales to be in the range of $136 million to $146 million, compared to last year's fourth quarter sales of $112.9 million, or an increase of 20 to 29 percent," Mr. Rubin said. "Earnings per share for the fourth quarter currently are expected to be in the range of $0.58 to $0.63 per diluted share versus the prior year's fourth quarter earnings from continuing operations of $0.50 per diluted share, an increase of 16 to 26 percent. Sales are currently expected to be in the range of $590 million to $600 million for the fiscal year ending February 28, 2005, with earnings per share from continuing operations anticipated to be in the range of $2.57 to $2.62 per diluted share."
The company is currently forecasting sales for next fiscal year, beginning March 1, 2005, in the range of $645 to $660 million. "We are also initiating next fiscal year earnings per share guidance of $2.90 to $3.00 per diluted share," Mr. Rubin concluded.
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