Boston — Duracell battery sales took parent Gillette by storm in the third quarter, with hurricane-related battery dollar volume rising 15 percent in the three months, hitting $592 million from a year-ago $514 million.
Operating profit in Gillette’s Duracell segment increased 52 percent in this year’s third quarter to $161 million, from $106 million, in the same three months in 2003. The increase was driven by growth in all regions of the world, said the company.
Heightened promotional and give-away activity in the high-end alkaline battery category, as well as aggressive promotion and increased distribution of low-priced, low-performance zinc batteries in North America, eroded Duracell’s alkaline dollar share by more than 1 percentage point, said Gillette.
Duracell net sales in the quarter, ended Sept. 30, benefited from the company’s battery business in China and the five storms that hit Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States, driving overall sales growth. Profits moved up due both to sales growth and ongoing manufacturing efficiencies.
For the nine months, Duracell sales were up 10 percent, hitting $1.46 billion from $1.33 billion in the same period a year earlier. Operating profit rose 63 percent, reaching $324 million, compared with a year-ago $199 million.
Battery sales and profit success helped contribute to consolidated Gillette third-quarter increases, which jumped 12 percent to $2.6 billion from $2.4 billion. Net income in the third quarter rose 14 percent, hitting $475 million, up from a year-on-year $416 million.
For the nine months, consolidated Gillette sales grew 11 percent to $7.4 billion from $6.6 billion, while net income climbed 26 percent to $1.3 billion from $1 billion.