Helen of Troy Q3 Net Off 0.5 Percent

HelenOfTroyEL PASO, Texas-Third-quarter net income for Helen of Troy slipped 0.5 percent to $37.5 million, as sales gained modestly and margin fell.

Net sales totaled $380.7 million, up 1.6 percent, in the quarter which ended on Nov. 30. In a conference call to financial analysts yesterday, Gerald Rubin, Helen of Troy chairman, president and CEO, said the company’s housewares segment led the top line with a 10.3 percent increase in the quarter. Net sales in the health-care/home environment sector were up 4.8 percent, while net sales in the personal-care segment dropped 5.7 percent.

Rubin said the housewares sector benefited from product launches in kitchen tools and gadgets, baking, cleaning and dry-food storage. The air-purification product category bolstered the results in the health-care/home environment segment. The sales decrease in the personal-care segment came about primarily to the highly promotional retail environment, Rubin said.

Gross margin fell 80 basis points to finish the quarter at 38.8 percent. Reflecting Helen of Troy’s ongoing efforts to control costs, selling, general and administrative expenses dropped 3.1 percent in dollars and 130 basis points as a percentage of sales, to 25.8 percent.

During the conference call, Tom Benson, Helen of Troy’s chief financial officer, said the company now expects net sales for all of fiscal 2014 to tally between $1.29 billion and $1.32 billion.