St. Louis - Lower sales of alkaline batteries during Energizer's fiscal first quarter, offset by increases in other products, kept North American dollar volume at Energizer Holdings flat for the three months, at $351.4 million, down from $351.9 million in the year-ago quarter.
Operating profit in North America during Energizer's first three months, declined 4 percent, to $112.9 million, from $117.7 million in the same quarter in 2001, reflecting continued promotional discounting by retailers, lower gross margin and higher advertising costs. Alkaline unit volume for the quarter was off 5 percent in North America, while photo lithium unit sales increased 49 percent.
In the United States, retail alkaline category units grew by an estimated 2 percent in the first quarter, compared with the same three months in 2001, while category value declined 4 percent.
Retail consumption of Energizer's alkaline products decreased an estimated 2 percent in units and 8 percent in value.
Company-wide net sales of alkaline batteries in the first quarter, ended Dec. 31, declined about 24 percent, to $410.4 million, compared with $420.6 million in the same quarter a year ago.
Consolidated sales at Energizer rose 1 percent during the first quarter, hitting $572.4 million, up from $567.7 million in the same period in 2001. Net earnings for the quarter came in at $86.4 million, compared with $70.4 million in the first quarter of the previous year.
Energizer's sales of carbon zinc batteries were flat in the first three months, at $66.3 million, compared with $66.6 million year over year. The company's Other category, which includes fast growing batteries such as rechargeables, jumped from $31.7 million in sales in the first quarter of 2001, to $41.5 million for the same period in 2002, or about 30 percent.