St. Louis — Hurricane- and blackout-related sales pumped up the North American battery segment at Energizer Holdings, with fiscal fourth quarter sales rising 8 percent, to $289.1 million, from $267.7 million in the year-ago period. Energizer attributed about $18 million of this increase to hurricane preparedness and blackout response.
North American battery segment profit climbed to $78.7 million in the fourth quarter, up from $62.9 million in the same period in 2002. Energizer attributed the profit rise to higher sales, although much of this growth was from lower margin large battery cells and flashlights, which are influenced by such events as hurricanes and blackouts. Also contributing to the higher profit was the elimination of a $5 million Kmart bad debt charge in the fourth quarter of last year, and lower overhead spending.
U.S. Energizer battery sales were led by an 11 percent increase in alkaline cells during the fourth quarter, reaching $316.7 million, up from $301.4 million year on year. Retail consumption of the company's alkaline products rose an estimated 10 percent in units and 6 percent in value during the three months.
'Fewer instances of deep discounting and free goods on premium brands have resulted in reduced volatility and a more rational category,' said CEO Pat Mulcahy.
For the 12 months, North American battery sales increased 2 percent, hitting $1.1 billion, up from $1 billion in the prior fiscal year. Profitability for the segment rose to $285.5 million for the 12 months, compared with $277.7 million year over year.
Alkaline battery sales for the fiscal year were about flat, increasing to $1.20 billion, from $1.19 billion the previous year.
Consolidated Energizer sales for the fiscal fourth quarter hit $703.5 million, up 59 percent from the $442.4 million registered a year earlier. This year's sales figures include sales from the newly acquired razor and blade-company, Schick-Wilkinson Sword. Pro forma fourth quarter sales for the previous fiscal year were $602.6 million.
Consolidated net earnings for the fourth quarter reached $33 million, compared with $60.7 million year on year. Results for the fourth quarter include a $33.5 million charge pre-tax, or $22.4 million after tax.