By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Net sales in the North American battery business at Energizer Holdings jumped 6 percent in the fiscal first quarter, ended Dec. 31, coming in at $369.9 million, up from $347.5 million year-on-year.
North American battery segment profit reached $115 million in the first quarter, up from $110.2 million in the same period a year ago. The increase was due primarily to higher battery sales volume, favorable pricing and product mix and favorable currency translation related to the company's Canadian operations.
Overall alkaline battery sales for the first quarter were relatively flat, hitting $425.7 million, up from $410.4 million in the first quarter of last year. Overall alkaline pricing was favorable in the first quarter, as lower list prices for key alkaline products were more than offset by reductions in promotional spending and list-price increases on other products.
In the United States, year-over-year retail alkaline battery unit sales declined about 5 percent in the first quarter, while category value dropped about 7 percent. Retail consumption of Energizer's alkaline products decreased an estimated 8 percent in units and 7 percent in value in the three months.
Stabilization of its North American battery business during its fiscal first quarter, as well as the last March purchase of the Schick-Wilkinson Sword razor and blade business, positively impacted consolidated results at Energizer.
Consolidated sales increased 42 percent in the three months, hitting $811.7 million, up from $572.4 million in the year-ago period, while net earnings reached $115 million, compared with $86.4 million in the same quarter in 2002.
Profit from operating segments increased 35 percent, reaching $189.8 million, up from $140.9 million in the first quarter of last year. The current quarter includes previously unrecognizable tax benefits of $6.7 million. Last year's first quarter included intellectual property rights income of $3.7 million, net of taxes.
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