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Alberto Culver Company announced that fourth quarter net sales increased 7.3% to $386.0 million, over the same period in 2007. Excluding the effect of foreign exchange rates, organic sales increased 8.4% for the fourth quarter. Pre-tax income from continuing operations increased 20.2% to $45.4 million from $37.8 million in the prior year quarter. Excluding restructuring of $1.6 million in the current quarter and $1.1 million in the prior year quarter, pre-tax earnings from continuing operations increased 21.0% to $47.0 million compared to $38.9 million in the prior year quarter.
"We are very pleased to have completed another year of record sales and pre-tax earnings growth for Alberto Culver and our shareholders," said said V. James Marino, president and CEO. "Despite soft hair care category trends in key markets like the U.S. and the U.K., we were able to generate high single-digit organic revenue growth in both the quarter and the year. In the fourth quarter, we also successfully completed the divestiture of Cederroth International and, on October 1, acquired Noxzema, adding an iconic, well- known skin care brand to our portfolio."
The fourth quarter sales growth was driven mainly by growth in TRESemme across all regions, strength in multicultural brands and healthy growth in Latin America across all brands. This growth was partially offset by decreases in Nexxus, as solid consumption growth trends were offset by prior year club channel distribution gains, and softness in St. Ives in the U.S.
The company reported that its gross profit margin increased to 51.7% compared to 51.4% in the prior year quarter, mainly due to more effective inventory management and manufacturing efficiencies, partially offset by higher input costs.