NEW YORK — Seeing ongoing strength in its stable of well-known personal care brands, Alberto-Culver Co. reported a 5.4 increase in first-quarter profits and said it is forging ahead with the spin-off of its Sally/Beauty Systems Group.
The company said Thursday that in the three months ended Dec. 31 net earnings were $52.1 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, compared with $49.4 million, or 53 cents, a year ago. Results in the latest quarter included stock-based compensation and a non-cash charge related to the company’s conversion to one class of common stock.
Analysts had been expecting a profit of 55 cents in the most recent quarter.
Total sales were up 6 percent at $898.3 million versus $847.5 million last year. By division, consumer products sales rose 5 percent to $318.9 million, while sales in the company’s Sally Beauty Supply were up 3.6 percent to $350 million. Beauty Systems Group sales increased 11 percent to $236.4 million.
The quarter’s sales were led by strong performance in the company’s Tresemme, Alberto VO5, St. Ives and Pro-Line brands.
Carol L. Bernick, chairman of the Melrose Park, Ill.-based company, said in a statement that even though “each of the environments in which we compete remains challenging, we continue to find creative and innovative ways to grow.”
Bernick cited the $2.6 billion deal announced earlier this month to spin off its Sally/Beauty Systems Group and merge it with Regis Corp. The deal will allow Alberto-Culver to focus solely on its consumer brands. “I can assure you that we are dedicated and optimistic about our ability to sustain continued growth for our shareholders both in the professional beauty business from the Sally-Regis combination and through the continuing growth of our consumer brands,” Bernick said. The deal is expected to close in May or June.
Additionally, the company still expects to launch its Nexxus brand in the food, mass, and drug channels early in the second quarter.
Alberto-Culver also said its board has approved its regular 11.5-cent quarterly cash dividend, to be paid on Feb. 17.