Nexxus items.

Alberto-Culver Co. said in its first financial report since the spin-off of Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. that costs related to an ensuing restructuring led to a first-quarter loss of $5.9 million, or 6 cents per share, for the period ended Dec. 31.

NEW YORK — Alberto-Culver Co. said in its first financial report since the spin-off of Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. that costs related to an ensuing restructuring led to a first-quarter loss of $5.9 million, or 6 cents per share, for the period ended Dec. 31.

In comparison, profits in the same period a year ago were $52.1 million, or 56 cents per fully diluted share, including earnings from discontinued operations of $37.7 million.

The maker of Tresemmé, Alberto VO5, Nexxus and St. Ives noted its pretax loss from continuing operations in the first fiscal quarter was $1.3 million, as a result of $31.4 million in expenses related in part to the split from Sally Beauty in November.

The firm said results from continuing operations were “strong,” adding that first-quarter sales rose by 12.6 percent to $351.1 million from $312 million in the same period a year ago.

“This quarter marks a new beginning for Alberto-Culver and we are focused on our efforts to drive results,” president and chief executive officer V. James Marino said in a statement. “We are very pleased with our first-quarter results,” he said during a conference call with analysts on Thursday.

He noted during the call that sales were driven by Nexxus and Tresemmé and that “the increase [in sales] was consistent with our expectations.” He said the firm expects to begin benefiting from cost savings associated with its restructuring plan during the second fiscal quarter.

Excluding restructuring expenses, earnings from continuing operations rose by 41.2 percent and diluted earnings per share increased 31.3 percent to 21 cents per share from 16 cents in the prior year.

In the statement, Marino cited $61 million in advertising expenditures — a 21 percent increase from 2005 — and plans for a new manufacturing plant in Arkansas as examples of brand support and expansion designed to improve margins. Advertising expenditure increased in part to support the global redesign and repackaging of Alberto-Culver’s St. Ives brand, an initiative begun in October, Marino noted during the call.

“We expect advertising [expenditures] to be up this year,” he said, adding the company will put its “resources and attention behind our highest-performing brands and markets. We feel our brands and our businesses are strong.”

This story first appeared in the January 26, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Looking ahead, Marino said, “Sales growth is expected to be somewhat flat,” compared with last year, when, in February, Nexxus made its U.S. mass market debut.

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