By  on April 29, 2005

NEW YORK — Personal care products manufacturer and distributor Alberto-Culver Co. on Thursday reported a 20.9 percent gain in second-quarter profits, helped by a nearly 8 percent rise in revenues, while profits in the first half of the fiscal year more than doubled.

The company said, however, that because it plans to invest aggressively in its brands and businesses this year and next, near-term profits could moderate.

For the three months ended March 31, the Melrose Park, Ill.-based company earned $49.1 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, compared with $40.6 million, or 44 cents, a year ago. Results in the latest quarter included a noncash charge due to changes in the way the company accounts for store leases, reducing earnings per share by 2 cents.

Excluding a noncash charge related to the company’s conversion to one class of common stock in the first quarter of fiscal year 2004, earnings in the quarter were up 12.1 percent to $51.4 million, or 55 cents, falling short of analysts’ expectations for 57 cents. On the same basis, earnings in the year-ago period totaled $45.9 million, or 50 cents. Alberto-Culver converted its common stock to a single class in November 2003.

Sales for the current quarter totaled $884.1 million, up 7.9 percent, from $819.3 million in the prior year. By segment, sales in the global consumer products division were up 10.8 percent to $330.2 million, while in the beauty supply distribution segment, which includes Sally Beauty Supply and the company’s beauty systems group, sales increased 6.1 percent to $560.5 million.

“Led by the continued strength of TRESemmé and the introduction of Alberto VO5 and St. Ives offerings at home and abroad, the company’s consumer products group sustained its strong sales growth,” said Howard B. Bernick, president and chief executive officer of Alberto-Culver, in a statement.

He added, however, that the company’s beauty systems group “is having a challenging year due to a loss of sales and [a] sales force disruption resulting from certain full-service product line distribution changes in the U.S.”

In first half of the year, Alberto-Culver said net profits jumped 132.7 percent to $98.5 million, or $1.06 a diluted share, versus $42.3 million, or 46 cents, in the comparable period. Revenues in the six months rose 9.3 percent to $1.73 billion from $1.58 billion.

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