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Helen of Troy: Q2 driven by stronger orders, improved gross profit margin

BY Antoinette Alexander

EL PASO, Texas — Helen of Troy, a developer and marketer of consumer products — including such personal care brands as Vidal Sassoon, Sure, Pert and Brut — reported that second-quarter sales and earnings surpassed its revised guidance fueled by stronger orders late in the quarter and improved gross profit margin in August.

Net sales revenue grew to $319.9 million compared with $319.4 million in the year-ago period.

Net income was $18.8 million, or 65 cents per diluted share, compared with $23.3 million, or 72 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period.

Gross profit margin was 41.8% compared with 38.6% for the same period last year. This increase reflects two months of operations of the Nutritional Supplements segment, which had a favorable impact of 2.6 percentage points on the consolidated gross profit margin. In addition, gross profit margin for the core business improved by 0.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year because of a better product sales mix.

“Our sales and earnings surpassed our revised guidance driven by stronger orders late in the quarter and better gross profit margin in August. Our acquisition of Healthy Directions contributed positively as planned. During the quarter, we made progress on our strategies that focus on product innovation, increased collaboration across our businesses and brands, and improved efficiency in many aspects of our organization,” said Julien R. Mininberg, CEO. “As an example, we have added new leadership in our global shared services who are spearheading the transformation of our distribution and sourcing operations. Executing our key strategies, combined with our strong balance sheet, allows us to invest in organic growth, improve our business and operations, while evaluating compelling acquisitions and repurchasing our common shares. This is positioning us to achieve our long-term goal of delivering consistent sales growth at increasing rates of profitability.”

As previously reported, in June the company acquired Healthy Directions, a provider of vitamins, minerals and supplements, for $195.9 million.
 

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KPMG: Transformation a primary focus for consumer goods execs

BY Ryan Chavis

NEW YORK — The recently released 2014 Food, Drink and Consumer Goods Outlook Survey from audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG highlights key initiatives that consumer goods executives are focusing on to transform their businesses. The goals range from updating operational efficiencies and technology to making a push for product innovation, according to survey results. 
 
What are the elements of such a transformation? According to the survey, 52% of executives report that, throughout the remainder of 2014, senior management's efforts will focus on operational efficiencies and technology updates. Forty-seven percent will focus on cost reduction.
 
"Transformation is about making comprehensive changes to a business at a time when incremental shifts are not sufficient," said Patrick Dolan, national line of businessleader for consumer markets at KPMG. "Businesses are challenged to think holistically and to develop operating models that will empower them to respond to current pressures in the marketplace, and that requires the support of leaders and employees with enterprising perspectives. It is refreshing to see many consumer goods companies turning this vision into a reality."
 
 
Making the necessary financial investment is also a key element in transforming a business: 28% of executives report that they plan on increasing spending to improve their facilities or expand them. This was followed by increasing spending on technology (27%); new products and services (27%); sales, marketing and branding (26%) and acquisition of businesses (26%). 
 
KPMG's survey also revealed the top channels in which consumer goods executives will support through investment in technology, which include the company website (63%), social media (54%) and brick-and-mortar stores (29%). 

For the full report, including insights on product innovation, analytics and supply chain transparency, click here.

 

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NACDS highlights role of pharmacist-provided vaccines in lead-up to congressional forum

BY Antoinette Alexander

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Emphasizing the role of pharmacists in providing vaccine services for patients, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a written statement in lead-up to a forum hosted by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., on Thursday at the Hammer Institutes for Health Sciences.

The forum, titled “The 21st Century Cures Roundtable – Vaccine Focus,” highlighted the importance of vaccinations in the interest of public health. Spearheaded by House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and committee member Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., the 21st Century Cures Initiative is designed to help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery process of new drug treatments for patients.

In addition to Rep. Ellmers, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who both serve on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, representatives from federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services participated in the panel discussion. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies also participated in the panel.

“Highly educated to provide patient care services, pharmacists are well suited to help increase vaccination rates and further reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases,” NACDS said in its statement.

NACDS also highlighted the healthcare savings that pharmacist-provided vaccines yield for patients.

“As demonstrated through the TRICARE program, significant savings were achieved by the Department of Defense when policies were implemented to allow TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain flu and pneumococcal vaccines from retail pharmacies,” NACDS stated.

It was estimated that for the first six months that beneficiaries could obtain their vaccinations from pharmacists, 18,361 vaccines for H1N1, flu and pneumococcal were administered at a cost of nearly $300,000. NACDS noted that had those vaccines been administered under the medical benefit, the cost to TRICARE would have been $1.8M. Because of these savings, the Department of Defense opted to expand coverage of the portfolio of vaccines that TRICARE beneficiaries may obtain from community pharmacies to include all CDC-recommended vaccines.

In its statement, NACDS also encouraged policymakers to identify opportunities to further utilize pharmacists to reach under-vaccinated populations, especially in states where restrictive state laws limit the vaccine services that pharmacists can provide.

“As the face of neighborhood health care, community pharmacies and pharmacists provide convenient, accessible and cost-effective health services, including immunizations, to their local communities,” NACDS said in its statement.
 

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