Alberto Culver Company has announced results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2010 ended September 30, 2010. For the fourth quarter, net sales increased 12.1% to $431.9 million compared to $385.2 million in the prior year quarter. On an organic basis, which excludes the effect of foreign currency fluctuations and acquisitions and divestitures, sales increased 4.9% in the current quarter. For the fiscal year, net sales increased 11.4% to $1.60 billion compared to $1.43 billion in the prior year period. On an organic basis, sales increased 4.2% in the current fiscal year.
In the U.S., sales increased 3.5% in the fourth quarter due to growth in TRESemme and Nexxus. International sales on a reported basis increased 26.7% (the net effect of foreign currency fluctuations, acquisitions and divestitures accounted for approximately 19.5% of the growth) as each international region generated organic sales growth, with Latin America and Canada being particularly strong.
The company's gross profit margin was 52.1% in the fourth quarter compared to 52.3% in the prior year quarter. The decrease in gross margin was primarily a result of elevated trade promotions, partly offset by manufacturing efficiencies. For the full fiscal year 2010, gross profit margin improved 100 basis points to 52.3% compared to 51.3% in the prior year mainly due to lower commodity costs, partially offset by higher trade promotions.
On Sept. 27, 2010, the Company entered into a definitive agreement with Unilever pursuant to which Unilever will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Alberto Culver for $37.50 per share in cash, valuing the company at approximately $3.7 billion. The transaction is structured as a merger and is subject to approval by owners holding a majority of Alberto Culver's outstanding common stock, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The merger agreement was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.