St. Louis - Lower volume, partially offset by favorable pricing and product, drove net North American sales down over 2 percent at Energizer Holdings in the battery company's fiscal second quarter, reaching $184.2 million, compared with $189 million in the year-ago period.
Operating profit in North America climbed to $43.2 million in the second quarter, ended March 31, up from $37.2 million the previous year. This increase reflects higher margins and lower overhead and advertising expenses, and includes the $10 million, pre-tax, charge related to the Kmart bad-debt expense.
Gross profit in North America increased $5.5 million in the second quarter, compared to a year ago, due to favorable pricing and product mix and lower product cost rates that reflect lower material costs and improved plant costs and operating levels.
Energizer battery sales value declined 7 percent in North America in the second quarter, while A.C. Nielsen reported the overall U.S. category sales value dropped 4 percent in the same three months.
Overall alkaline battery sales, by far Energizer's largest category, dropped a bit under 4 percent, to $211.6 million, in the second quarter, compared with $217.9 million in the second quarter last year.
For the six months, North American sales hit $536.1 million, up from $513.7 million in the same three months in 2001. Operating profit in the second quarter, before unusual items and amortization, climbed to $160.9 million, compared with $126.2 million the previous year.
Overall Energizer sales in the second quarter dropped 4 percent, to $339.7 million, down from $355 million the previous year. Net earnings for the quarter were $20 million, up from $5.6 million year over year.
Sales for the six months declined 1 percent, to $907.4 million, compared with $914.3 million in the same period a year ago. Net earnings rose to $90.4 million in the six months, up from $59.8 million year over year.