ALBERTO-CULVER PROFITS: Alberto-Culver Co. said strong results from its Sally and Beauty Systems Group businesses drove double-digit bottom- and top-line gains in the third quarter. For the three months ended June 30, the Melrose Park, Ill.-based beauty company reported a 20.9 percent increase in net income to $51.5 million, or 56 cents a diluted share. Excluding special items, earnings would have been $50.8 million, or 55 cents, which beat the Wall Street estimate by a penny. Last year, by comparison, Alberto-Culver had profits of $42.6 million, or 47 cents. Sales for the quarter advanced 11.8 percent to $823.2 million from $736.1 million a year ago. Overall, for the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company recorded earnings of $93.8 million, or $1.02, a 19.4 percent decrease from last year’s profits of $116.4 million, or $1.29. However, excluding charges, net income would have climbed 19.7 percent to $139.4 million, or $1.52. Sales for the period increased 12.5 percent to $2.41 billion from $2.14 billion a year ago.
GUCCI PLANT: In September, Gucci will open a plant near Pisa, Italy, that will specialize in the tanning and production of French calfskin for its ultratrendy accessories. The 72,260-square-foot space is going into operation after Gucci formed Blutonic, a joint venture created in June 2001 with two Florentine leathergoods specialists. The company, in which Gucci has a 51 percent stake, was established to monitor the supplies of raw materials and costs and to treat high-end materials. The facility will churn out 300,000 pieces of leather annually. Gucci foresees a similar venue, slated to bow by yearend, for exotic hides such as alligator, crocodile, python and ostrich.