Fourth-quarter profits at New York-based Inter Parfums Inc. fell by 40.8 percent as sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31 slumped 15.9 percent, compared with the same period a year ago.

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Net earnings dropped to $5.1 million, or 17 cents a diluted share, from $8.6 million, or 28 cents, on sales that were down to $100.4 million from $119.4 million in the year-ago period. Results were below Wall Street analysts’ expectations of 21 cents a share, according to Yahoo Finance.

Net earnings were impacted by slower sales of Inter Parfums’ Nickel men’s skin care brand, the company said, as well as the strengthening U.S. dollar and interest expenses.

For the full year, profits were flat — down just 0.25 percent to $23.77 million, or 77 cents a diluted share, last year from $23.82 million, or 76 cents, in 2007. Annual sales increased by 14.5 percent to $446.1 million in 2008 over $389.6 million in 2007.

The company noted that it is “taking actions to mitigate” the negative effect of the global financial crisis on consumer demand, which has resulted in the firm’s distributors and retailers carrying less inventory.

Still, “As a result of the global economic crisis, as well as the continued strength of the U.S. dollar relative to the euro, we are revising our 2009 guidance to net sales of $390 million, with net income of approximately $21 million, or 70 cents per diluted share, assuming the dollar remains at current levels,” the company stated.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Inter Parfums SA, the Paris-based subsidiary of Inter Parfums Inc., reported net profit for 2008 was up 5 percent on-year at 21.1 million euros, or $31 million, at average exchange.

Operating profit spiked by 8 percent for the year at 34.3 million euros, or $50.47 million. The company’s sales for 2008 came in at 264.9 million euros, or $389.8 million, up 9 percent year-on-year.

“We met sales and earnings objectives for 2008 despite the challenging economic conditions of the second half,” stated Philippe Benacin, Inter Parfums SA’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Information on the market received in the beginning of 2009 is relatively mixed,” he added. “Nevertheless, despite reduced visibility, based on satisfactory sales for the first quarter, we have not modified annual sales targets of 273 million euros [$349.7 million at current exchange] for 2009. In addition, we will continue to pursue opportunities for external growth in an environment now more favorable for acquisitions.”