By  on August 12, 2008

Profits at fragrance producer Inter Parfums Inc. advanced slightly during the second quarter but beat Wall Street analysts’ estimates.

Net income for the three months rose 0.6 percent to $3.8 million from $3.7 million in the same period a year ago. Earnings per diluted share came in at 12 cents, unchanged from last year, exceeding analysts’ expectations of 10 cents a share.

The effects of currency exchange led to a decrease in the firm’s gross margin rate, which declined to 56.4 percent of sales compared with 58.2 percent in the year-ago period. Inter Parfums attributed the decrease to the “effect the decline of the U.S. dollar against the euro had on European-based product sales to U.S. customers.”

Sales at Inter Parfums’ European operations accounted for 84 percent of second-quarter revenues, which were $99.1 million, up 19.7 percent from $82.8 million a year ago.

First-half profits jumped 30.8 percent to $12.5 million, or 40 cents a diluted share, from $9.5 million, or 31 cents, on revenues that increased 32.3 percent to $222.2 million, from $167.9 million, in the same period last year.

Jean Madar, chairman and chief executive officer, noted that specialty retailing “has become an increasingly important part of our overall business.” The company will launch lip glosses with Bebe Stores for holiday and a Brooks Brothers fragrance collection in the U.S. later this year with international distribution planned for 2009.

Regarding its existing relationship with Gap Inc., “based upon results to date and plans underway, we are finding international markets to be very receptive to Gap and Banana Republic products and we have achieved excellent placement in department and specialty stores in certain international markets, including travel-related retail,” Madar added.

Russell Greenberg, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, “It bears repeating that our business has become increasingly seasonal due to the timing of shipments by our majority-owned distribution subsidiaries to their customers and because delivery schedules for our U.S. specialty retail customers are weighted toward the second half.”

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