LONDON — Alliance Boots reported Wednesday that aftertax profits hit 387 million pounds, or $725 million at average exchange, for the year ended March 31. In the prior-year period, profits were 1.77 billion pounds, or about $3.1 billion, on the back of Boots Group's 1.93 billion pound, or $3.6 billion, sale of Boots Healthcare International.

Aftertax profits from continuing operations rose 20 percent year-over-year, to 366 million pounds, or $685 million.

The company, which was formed in July following the merger of Boots Group and Alliance UniChem and is now the subject of an acquisition bid from private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, said its adjusted earnings hit 467 million pounds, or $875 million, an increase of 11.5 percent year-over-year.

Revenues gained 3.6 percent, to 14.61 billion pounds, or $27.4 billion, the company said.

"We have delivered a strong financial performance while executing one of the biggest mergers undertaken in the U.K.," Richard Baker, the firm's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

In the U.K., Alliance Boots' beauty and toiletries category's sales spiked 5.4 percent, to 1.73 billion pounds, or $3.2 billion.

The company highlighted the continued growth of its No. 7 brand, one of a plethora of its own labels, noting there was "unprecedented demand" for the No.7 Protect and Perfect Beauty Serum after it was featured on a BBC television program. A waiting list of more than 100,000 customers has since formed for the product.

In a separate release, the company said it had introduced a special customer care team and it would open four flagships in the U.K. at 7 a.m. on Friday to deal with demand for the serum, which sold out after being lauded on the show for its antiaging benefits.

Alliance Boots said it expected "the good trading performance it has seen in 2006-07 to continue in the current financial year." If approved by shareholders, the acquisition of Alliance Boots could be completed by July. — Brid Costello

Henkel Reports 11.1% First-Quarter Earnings Gain

BERLIN — Henkel has reported a healthy kickoff to financial year 2007, with cosmetics and toiletries' first-quarter earnings before interest and taxes rising 11.1 percent compared with the previous year. Sales for the segment increased by 9.6 percent.EBIT reached 82 million euros, or $107.5 million at average exchange, on sales of 704 million euros, or $923 million. The company said it performed particularly well in Eastern Europe, North America and Latin America, with organic growth of 6.4 percent.

Henkel said it was pleased with the strong growth shown by the hair cosmetics business, in particular the popularity of the colorants brands Brilliance, Palette and Diadem. The firm reported expansion in all three hair segments: In the colorants market, Palette Radiance did well; in the care segment, the introduction of Gliss Kur Oil Nutritive proved successful, and the main emphasis on styling came from the new line Taft Volume Power. In skin care, the company benefited from profits made by the antiaging product 1000 Microliftings in the Diadermine Lift+ series.

Henkel expects organic sales growth in cosmetics and toiletries for 2007 to be above the market average, with group growth, after adjustment for foreign exchange and acquisitions/divestments, at the upper end of the 3 to 4 percent range. The company expects EBIT to exceed organic sales growth. The main objective for 2007 is to expand market positions, particularly in Europe and North America. — Damien McGuinness

Clinique, Cosmopolitan Team Up for Sun Safety

"Safe" was the "new sexy" at the kickoff of a joint campaign between Clinique and Cosmopolitan magazine aimed at promoting sun safety, held on Friday at Bloomingdale's 59th Street store.

Actress Rosario Dawson was on hand to share her own safety tips and personal insights.

"After 10 to 15 minutes in the sun, all you're doing is burning your elasticity away," said Dawson. "Just because I have a natural tan doesn't mean I don't use bronzers, sparkles and fake tans — there are so many alternatives now."

Clinique executives view the partnership with Cosmopolitan, which is slated to run through May 31, as an opportunity reach a younger consumer base. As part of Friday's event, Clinique gave away self-tanner and sun block.

"Young girls feel like they need a tan to look gorgeous," said Lynne Greene, global president of Clinique. "We want them to know that they can look gorgeous and still be safe using self-action tanning creams."According to Jane Lauder, senior vice president of global product marketing for Clinique, the company's message isn't just about the things one can do to repair lines and wrinkles, but the preventative measures one can take to look good every day.

Howard Kreitzman, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and fragrances at Bloomingdale's, said, "We're pleased to work with Clinique and Cosmopolitan to raise the awareness among our customers that there are safer and smarter alternatives to tanning." — Michelle Edgar

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