By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Flying in the face of stiff battery business competition, Energizer Holdings ramped up its drive for product and cost savings in its fiscal third quarter, more than doubling its net earnings, to $39.8 million in the three months, up from $15.5 million in the year-ago period. Excluding unusual items, 2001 third quarter earnings were $7.2 million.
Energizer sales in the third quarter climbed 12 percent, hitting $389.9 million, up from $347.2 million in the same three months this year.
The company's North American segment helped contribute to the overall increase, with its sales rising 21 percent, to $231.2 million, up from $191.3 million in the same quarter last year. Operating profit before unusual items in North America reached $60 million in the third quarter, ended June 30, up from $23.2 million the previous year, reflecting higher margins and lower overhead expenses.
The North American sales increase was attributed primarily to higher alkaline unit volume, Energizer said. A large portion of the volume increase is attributable to lower sales in last year's third quarter when the company's battery sales lagged retail consumption by 8 percent to 10 percent.
"While our North American sales increased 21 percent, we estimate that consumption of our product at retail was essentially flat," said CEO J. Patrick Mulcahy. "The sales increase was related primarily to the timing of shipments and year-over-year comparative factors."
Net sales for the nine months in North America rose 9 percent, to $767.3 million, up from $705 million year over year. The increase was primarily due to higher alkaline battery volume, partially offset by unfavorable pricing and product mix, reflecting intense competition and higher promotional activity. Profit for the nine months hit $220.9 million, due to lower product cost rates and higher sales, compared with $149.4 million in the year-ago period.
Overall Energizer sales for the nine months moved up 3 percent, reaching $1.30 billion.
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