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Duracell Battery Q3 Sales Off 4%

Boston – Sales of Duracell batteries dipped 4 percent in the third quarter, down to $482 million, with Duracell profit rising 41 percent in the third quarter, to $78 million.

Duracell, a business segment of the multi-product Gillette company, reported that despite strong unit volume in Europe and lower trade spending in the United States, battery sales were curbed, due to intense competitive activity in North America and by unfavorable shifts in mix among brands, pack sizes and retail channels.

In the United States, this activity resulted in a 2-point decline in market share, said Gillette. However, margin in the third quarter, ended Sept 30, improved considerably, due primarily to cost savings initiatives, as Duracell made major progress toward its goal to achieve industry-leading profit margin, said the company.

Operating margin in the third quarter increased to 16 percent, up from 11 percent in the third quarter last year.

For the nine months, sales in the Duracell segment fell 3 percent, to $1.24 billion, while profit declined 8 percent, to $123 million.

Driven by strong growth in new products and solid cost savings, net consolidated income for the overall Gillette company climbed 20 percent in the third quarter, hitting $354 million, up from $296 million in the same three months in 2001.

Sales for the third quarter overall, reached $2.2 billion, a 2 percent gain, compared with $2.1 billion year over year.

For the nine months, consolidated net profit increased to $870 million, up from $710 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales for the nine months at Gillette, rose 5 percent, to $6 billion, compared with $5.7 billion.