Alberto-Culver Company announced a 14.5% fourth quarter net sales increase to $421.5 million for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2007. Pre-tax income from continuing operations increased 8.4% to $46.8 million. Excluding restructuring and other expenses of $1.1 million, pre-tax earnings from continuing operations increased 11.0% to $47.9 million compared to $43.2 million in the prior year.
"Our strong performance this quarter and this year has provided us the opportunity to continue to make significant advertising and marketing investments to drive our momentum and future growth and has resulted in the strengthening of our brands in several of our key markets," said V. James Marino, president and CEO, Alberto-Culver. "These strong results close the chapter on a very successful fiscal year 2007 for Alberto-Culver and its shareholders."
Net sales for the fiscal year grew by 10.2% to $1.54 billion from $1.40 billion in the prior year. Pre-tax income from continuing operations increased 3.6% to $113.0 million, after deducting $34.6 million for restructuring and other expenses. Excluding restructuring and other expenses, pre-tax earnings from continuing operations increased 35.3% to $147.6 million.
Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations were 83 cents after deducting 23 cents for restructuring and other expenses while diluted earnings per share excluding restructuring and other expenses increased 24.7% to $1.06 versus 85 cents in the prior year. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations in the current year included approximately 5 cents per share of tax benefits primarily due to changes in certain estimates related to fiscal year 2006 tax returns and the favorable resolution of certain open tax items while last year included approximately 6 cents per share of tax benefits mainly due to the favorable resolution of open tax items.
The company reported that its gross profit margin increased to 52.2% compared to 51.0% in the prior year quarter, mainly due to favorable mix. Pre-tax margin from continuing operations was 11.1% this quarter compared to 11.7% in the prior year as the company increased advertising and marketing investments in the current quarter. Advertising and other marketing expenditures were 18.4% of net sales and increased 45.0% during the quarter to $77.6 million from $53.5 million, or 14.5% of net sales, in the prior year. The increase from last year was driven mainly by initiatives this quarter for Alberto VO5, TRESemme and Nexxus. For the fiscal year, advertising and other marketing investments increased almost 11.0% to $284.7 million compared to $256.9 million last year despite significant prior year advertising investments associated with the Nexxus retail launch.
"In a transformational year for our company, we are very pleased to report continued sales and earnings growth," said Carol Lavin Bernick, executive chairman, Alberto-Culver. "We remain focused and committed to building all of our brands through innovation, creative advertising and marketing and finding ways to win on shelf in this competitive environment."