Third-quarter profits at New York-based Inter Parfums Inc. increased 17.4 percent to $7.3 million from $6.2 million in the same period a year ago on lower interest expenses, the firm reported Monday afternoon.

This story first appeared in the November 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Earnings rose to 24 cents a diluted share from 20 cents in the year-ago period. On average, Wall Street analysts had expected earnings per share of 19 cents, according to Yahoo Finance.

The earnings gain came despite a 4.8 percent drop in sales for the three months ended Sept. 30. Revenues for the quarter were $117.5 million versus $123.5 million a year ago. At comparable foreign currency exchange rates, net sales were down 6 percent.

Inter Parfums’ European-based operations generated sales of $104 million, a 4 percent decrease from $108.8 million, the firm stated, adding that sales of U.S.-based operations declined 8 percent to $13.5 million from $14.7 million.

Discussing European-based operations, Jean Madar, chairman and chief executive officer of Inter Parfums, stated, “As compared to last year’s third quarter, the current period’s product launches were far fewer in number and smaller in scale.

“Current period launches included limited distribution of Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire and the launch of Paul Smith Man, for which the rollout is ongoing,” he added. “The modest decline in third-quarter net sales masks the exceptional performance of the largest brand in our prestige portfolio, Burberry. Burberry brand sales were up 19 percent in local currency.”

Commenting on the performance of the firm’s U.S. operations, Madar stated, “The magnitude of the decline is far less than the two preceding quarters, due in great part to the launch of Bebe fragrance in Bebe stores and at Dillard’s, as well as the introduction of Republic of Women and Republic of Men for Banana Republic. International distribution also experienced the beginning of a turnaround in select markets.”

For the first nine months of the year, sales and profits both declined. Profits were off by 9.4 percent to $16.9 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, from $18.7 million, or 60 cents a share, a year ago. Year-to-date, sales came in at $296.6 million, a decrease of 14.2 percent from $345.8 million in the same period a year ago.

The firm raised its full-year guidance and now estimates annual revenues of about $400 million and profits of about $22.3 million, or 74 cents a diluted share.

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