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Duracell Battery Sales Climb 5%

Boston — Gillette’s acquisition of the Nanfu battery company in the summer of 2003, combined with strong growth in emerging markets and the positive impact of consumer marketing programs, helped elevate Duracell battery sales at parent Gillette by 5 percent in the second quarter.

Duracell sales for the three months, ended June 30, climbed to $456 million, while profit from operations rose 65 percent, reaching $89 million.

In the second quarter, Gillette said Duracell consumer promotional tie-ins with the “Lord of the Rings” DVD release and NASCAR, as well as growth in developing countries, helped counter the “significant” promotional activity by price brands and private label batteries in North America.

Profit gains for the company’s battery segment reflected manufacturing and procurement savings and lower trade and consumer spending, compared with the prior-year second quarter.

For the six months, battery sales increased 7 percent, hitting $870 million, while profit from operations reached $163 million, or a 76 percent hike over the same three months last year.

Gillette’s battery business teamed with the company’s shaving products lineup to kick up sales 8 percent in the second quarter, from $2.3 billion last year to $2.4 billion in 2004.

Solid sales growth — driven by increased investment in advertising, favorable business mix and overhead savings — pushed up profit from operations by 21 percent in the three months, reaching $610 million from $505 million the previous year.

The strong operating results and lower interest expense helped fuel net income in the second three months, which jumped 26 percent to $426 million from $338 million year-on-year.

For the six months, Gillette sales grew 11 percent to $4.7 billion from $4.2 billion, while net income increased 33 percent to $802 million from $601 million.