Elizabeth Arden Inc. on Thursday reported a sales gain of nearly 3 percent in the second quarter, boosted by strong international sales and offset by a challenging Christmas on the home front.

E. Scott Beattie, chairman, president and chief executive officer, referred to the polarity of international sales, which gained 20 percent in the first half, and domestic sales, which dipped 2 percent — as a “tale of two worlds.”

For the three months ended Dec. 31, total sales gained 2.8 percent to $422.4 million from $410.8 million a year ago.

Beattie stated that the holiday season was a “difficult” one, saying, “For the first half of the year, we had an overall decline in our net sales in North America of 2 percent, while we had expected growth of approximately 4.5 percent, or $20 million. This shortfall was due to weak holiday performance, largely at mass volume and prestige department store retailers.”

For the quarter, earnings were $33.8 million, or $1.15 a diluted share, compared with $26.2 million including restructuring charges, or 92 cents, in the year-ago period.

For the first half, income was $34.9 million, or $1.18 a diluted share, compared with $25.8 million, or 91 cents, last year, on sales that grew 4.3 percent to $694.2 million.

The company said the fall introduction of M by Mariah Carey — Arden’s first coordinated global fragrance launch — has been a success, and that the fragrance ranked sixth on the list of the top women’s fragrances last fall. A flanker scent called Mariah Gold is planned for the second half. Turning to the incessant talk of the increasingly troubled pop star Britney Spears, the firm said it continually looks for a negative sales impact due to her erratic behavior, but has yet to find one. Both Spears’ Fantasy and Curious scents ranked among the top holiday fragrances in the mass market, according to Arden.

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