St. Louis - North American sales of batteries at Energizer Holdings increased 8 percent in the company's first fiscal quarter, reaching $351.9 million, up from $324.7 million in the year-ago period.
The increase was due to higher volumes, partially offset by unfavorable pricing and product mix reflecting higher promotional spending.
Operating profit in North America increased to $117.7 million, compared with $89 million in the year-ago three months, reflecting higher margins and lower advertising and overhead expenses.
Energizer's share of the U.S. retail battery market dropped 1.6 basis points, to 32.7 percent for the first quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with 34.3 percent in the same three months in 2000. For the year, the company's share of market dipped 1.8 basis points, down to 31.8 percent, compared with 12 months in 2000.
Total dollar sales of primary batteries at Energizer decreased 3 percent in the first quarter, while unit volume climbed 3 percent for the same period, compared with the year-ago first quarter. This reflected promotion activities.
Overall first-quarter sales at the company reached $567.7 million, up 1.5 percent over the $559.3 percent recorded in the same period in 2000. Sales increases in North America were partially offset by declines in the Asia-Pacific and South and Central America segments.
Overall net earnings for the first quarter were $70.4 million, up 30 percent compared with $54.2 million in the same quarter in 2000. This was boosted by an accounting change and somewhat higher sales, even though the company lost U.S. market share.
Excluding $2.9 million in charges for restructuring, first-quarter 2001 earnings hit $73.3 million. Excluding amortization, results for the first quarter on 2001 were $58 million.
Sales of alkaline batteries - by far the bulk of Energizer's business - climbed to $420.6 million in the first quarter, compared with $395.3 million in the year-ago three months. Carbon zinc types did $66.6 million in sales in the first quarter, down from $83.6 million the previous year.