By  on January 28, 2005

NEW YORK — While promising to continue rolling out new products in 2005, Alberto-Culver Co. reported a 21.2 percent jump in first-quarter profits Thursday, excluding certain charges, thanks to strong product sales and the expansion of its beauty supply business.

In the three months ended Dec. 31, the consumer products company earned $49.4 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, versus $1.7 million, or 2 cents, in the same period last year. Results included noncash charges of $2.5 million and $41.1 million in the just-completed and year-ago quarters, respectively, related to the company’s conversion to one class of common stock in November 2003.

Excluding the charges, earnings would have been $51.9 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, compared with $42.8 million, or 47 cents, in the 2003 quarter. On this basis, analysts had been calling for a profit of 54 cents.

Total revenues were $847.5 million, up 10.8 percent from $764.8 million a year ago, with global consumer product sales up 9.4 percent to $303.7 million. During the quarter, the company launched TRESemmé in the U.K. and introduced Nourishing Oasis and St. Ives for Alberto VO5.

“New product launches for our main global franchises will be coming domestically and around the world, [which] will hopefully boost our sales in the second quarter and the rest of fiscal 2005, also,” said Howard B. Bernick, president and chief executive officer of Alberto-Culver, in a Thursday statement.

In addition, the company announced a 15 percent increase in its annual dividend during its yearly shareholder’s meeting, held Thursday in Melrose Park, Ill. The new dividend is 46 cents a share, amounting to 11.5 cents quarterly, with the next to be paid on Feb. 18 to shareholders of record on Feb. 7.

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