St. Louis — The active U.S. hurricane season substantially boosted the battery business at Energizer in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, charging North American battery sales by 16 percent, to $331.7 million, from a year-ago $286.4 million.
The impact of four major hurricanes in the fourth quarter contributed about $40 million of sales, compared with about $18 million in incremental sales volume in last year’s fourth quarter, which was related to one major hurricane and the East Coast blackout.
Apart from Energizer’s event-driven battery sales volume, alkaline battery sales grew about 5 percent in the fourth quarter, reaching $356.2 million, up from $316.7 million in the same three months last year.
Battery segment profit in North America climbed 13 percent, to $88.9 million, from a year-earlier $78.4 million, due to higher gross margin, partially offset by higher overhead expenses. Gross margin increased $14.8 million in the fourth quarter, due to higher sales volume in large cell-size batteries.
In the United States, retail alkaline battery units grew 2 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the year-on-year three months. Retail consumption of alkaline products jumped an estimated 9 percent in units and 6 percent in value in the quarter.
Non-promoted retail sales were up 9 percent for the quarter vs. the same three months last year, while promoted retail sales were off 4 percent, according to A.C. Nielsen figures, said Energizer.
Total North American battery sales for the fiscal year increased 7 percent, to $1.1 billion, from $1 billion, while segment profit edged upward to $298.2 million in the 12 months, from a year-ago $283.5 million.
For the 12 months, alkaline battery sales moved up to $1.28 billion, from $1.20 billion the previous year.
Consolidated Energizer sales in the fourth quarter, which includes lighting and razor blade products, rose 7 percent, hitting $756.2 million, up from a year-earlier $703.2 million. Net earnings for the fourth quarter about doubled, to $60.3 million, from $33 million in the same three months in 2003.
Consolidated year-end sales climbed 26 percent, to $2.8 billion, from $2.2 billion, due to the addition of new razor and blade sales and higher battery volume. Net earnings for the 12 months increased to $267.4 million, from $169.9 million.