By  on July 29, 2008

Third-quarter profits at Alberto-Culver Co. were down 15.8 percent to $21.1 million, or 21 cents a diluted share, from $25.1 million, or 25 cents, in the year-ago period as restructuring charges and the pending sale of the firm’s Cederroth International business weighed down results.

However, the firm noted that excluding $2.7 million in restructuring and other expenses — stemming from plans to close manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico and Toronto — diluted earnings per share from continuing operations increased 29.2 percent to 31 cents from 24 cents in the same period last year. Wall Street analysts had expected the firm to earn 28 cents a share in the third quarter, according to Yahoo Finance.

Alberto-Culver experienced a loss of $8.6 million from discontinued operations, which primarily included the Cederroth business. The company expects to finalize the sale of Cederroth, a Stockholm-based consumer products manufacturer with limited beauty offerings, to CapMan, a private equity firm focused on Nordic companies and listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, during its fiscal fourth quarter. At that time, CapMan is to pay 159.5 million euros, or $251.2 million at current exchange, to Alberto Culver AB, the company’s wholly owned Swedish subsidiary.

Revenues during the third quarter, which ended June 30, increased by 12.3 percent to $364.9 million from $325 million in the year-ago period.

V. James Marino, president and chief executive officer of Alberto-Culver, told analysts during a conference call Monday that the company’s TRESemmé brand experienced a “strong double-digit sales increase,” while sales of the firm’s Nexxus, Alberto VO5 and St. Ives brands grew in the single digits.

“We’re extremely pleased with our results in the third quarter,” he said, adding that while personal care is “not immune” from economic difficulty, the firm is “on track for the year. Our brands continue to perform well in a soft economic environment.”

The company reported that its gross profit margin increased to 54.2 percent, versus 52.8 percent in the same period a year ago. It also increased its advertising and marketing spend by 14.3 percent to $70.7 million from $61.8 million a year ago.

Marino noted Alberto-Culver repurchased about 3.8 million shares of common stock during the quarter and authorized an additional 5 million shares to be repurchased, while also retiring $120 million in debt.

For the first nine months, profits jumped 94.1 percent to $81.1 million, or 80 cents a diluted share, from $41.8 million, or 43 cents, on sales that increased 10.6 percent to $1.06 billion, compared with $955.7 million in the same period a year ago.

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