HEALTH

Vitamin Shoppe reports 12.3% sales jump in Q2

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. Vitamin Shoppe on Thursday posted a 12.3% lift in sales for its second quarter ended June 26. Sales reached $192.2 million.

“2010 started strong and that momentum continued into the second quarter,” stated Rick Markee, Vitamin Shoppe chairman and CEO. “Comparable-store sales for the second quarter of 2010 increased 8.6%, making this our 19th consecutive quarter of comparable same-store sales growth,” he said. 

Much of that same-store sales performance can be attributed to the maturing of the retailer’s store base, Markee told analysts Thursday morning. Approximately 40% of the Vitamin Shoppe store base is less than four years old, he said. However, mature stores are experiencing positive comps as well, he added.

The company operated 463 stores as of June 26, compared with 425 stores in the same quarter last year.

In an update on its 2010 outlook, Vitamin Shoppe expected to now spend approximately $22 million in total capital expenditures, which should bring the new store count for the year to 46 from 42. 

The company expected comparable-store sales growth for the remainder of the year in line with industry growth in the mid-single digits.

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Nutritional, diagnostics sales give Abbott a boost

BY Michael Johnsen

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. Abbott on Wednesday posted a U.S. sales increase of 6.4% to $3.8 billion, including a 1.6% lift in domestic diagnostics sales and a 1.7% increase in U.S. nutritional sales.

In a conference call with analysts Wednesday morning, Abbott announced it would be relaunching its Ensure adult nutritional brand with the proprietary ingredient Revigor. Revigor (hydroxymethyl butyrate) is one of the key ingredients in the company’s Juven line, a nutrition line for recovering cancer patients. Along with arginine and glutamine, Juven helps slow protein breakdown and facilitate synthesis of collagen and other proteins involved in tissue repair. Ensure with Revigor will be designed “to help consumers maintain and rebuild lean body mass lost due to aging, illness, injury or surgery.”

Company officials projected nutritional growth in the upper single-digits going forward.

With regard to its diagnostics division, Abbott Diabetes Care last month announced that it has received 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for its new FreeStyle blood glucose test strips. The new FreeStyle test strips minimize interference during blood glucose testing and are designed to offer a better testing experience, the company stated. Abbott is preparing to launch those new strips nationwide in the coming weeks.

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Reckitt Benckiser seeks to expand business with SSL bid

BY Michael Johnsen

SLOUGH, England Reckitt Benckiser on Wednesday announced its bid for SSL International, parent company of Durex, in a cash deal valued at $3.9 billion.

The acquisition of SSL provides Reckitt Benckiser with an attractive opportunity to increase its presence in the health and personal care sector, the company stated in a 39-page document outlining the proposed offer.

“The acquisition of SSL will provide a step change to Reckitt Benckiser’s global health and personal care business, which has been a key driver of Reckitt Benckiser’s net revenue growth and profit progression,” stated Bart Becht, Reckitt CEO. “It is anticipated that the acquisition will increase Reckitt Benckiser’s health and personal care net revenues by [more than] 36% to approximately [$4.3 billion, representing] one-third of the group’s total net revenues.”

The acquisition will add two new “power brands” to the Reckitt arsenal, Becht said, including Durex in intimacy health and Scholl in foot care. “We believe that we could drive further growth in the acquired business, especially Durex and Scholl, by investing in SSL and Reckitt Benckiser’s proven innovation and brand-building capabilities, and by taking advantage of our greater distribution strength,” Becht added.

The Dr. Scholl brand name currently is licensed to Merck Consumer Care in the U.S. market.

The SSL board intends to recommend unanimously that SSL shareholders accept the offer.

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