By  on May 2, 2008

The U.S. consumer was weaker over the first three months of the year than Elizabeth Arden Inc. anticipated, leading to losses as well as lower sales for the quarter.

Losses during the firm's fiscal third quarter, which ended March 31, weighed in at $3.8 million, or 14 cents a share. That compared with earnings of $3.2 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier.

Sales at the prestige beauty products company fell 4 percent for the three months to $210.6 million from $219.2 million.

"While we were not expecting any improvement in the retail environment this past quarter in North America, we did not anticipate the extent of the negative retail sales trends," said E. Scott Beattie, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Earnings for the nine months rose 9.5 percent to $30.3 million, or $1.04 a diluted share, as sales inched up 2.3 percent to $904.8 million.

The firm cut earnings projections for the full year to $1.30 to $1.36 a diluted share, down from the $1.65 to $1.75 previously anticipated.

Arden also sped up a rejiggering of its supply chain and laid out a restructuring plan, which will save up to $27 million in fiscal 2009 and 2010 combined.

The restructuring, however, will also lead to expenses of $12 million to $14 million, before taxes. This includes severance, relocation, recruiting and temporary staffing expenditures. A spokeswoman for the company declined to disclose how many people would lose their jobs in the restructuring.

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