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The Alberto Culver Company announced growth in organic revenue and diluted earnings per share from continuing operations, excluding restructuring and discrete items. Net sales for the third quarter 2009, however, decreased 3.6% to $351.6 million from $364.9 million in the prior year quarter. Net sales for the nine-month period decreased 0.8% to $1.05 billion from $1.06 billion in the prior year.
"Despite a prolonged softness in hair care, we continue to outpace the category and capture record shares for Alberto Culver," said V. James Marino, president and CEO, Alberto Culver. "Our business and brands remain healthy as evidenced by our hair care consumption trends. We generated strong cash flow during the quarter and are very pleased with our results and the momentum that many of our brands have in the marketplace."
The third quarter, organic sales growth rate of 2.0% was driven mainly from U.S. and international growth in TRESemme and international growth in St. Ives and Alberto VO5. This growth, according to the company, was significantly offset by lower sales in Spain due to the prior year introduction of TRESemme, and lower multicultural and custom label manufacturing sales, whose specialty retail and direct selling customer base has been significantly impacted from the soft economy. These items lowered consolidated organic sales growth by approximately 300 basis points.
The company's gross profit margin was 50.8% in the third quarter, compared to 53.0% in the prior year quarter, mainly due to higher raw material costs.
"As we discussed after the March quarter, oil derived raw material costs have begun decreasing and, as a result, our gross margin improved versus the second quarter," said Marino. "While other non-oil based costs including tin plate and certain chemicals remain elevated, we expect cost trends to continue to become more favorable into the September quarter and believe that we are well positioned to continue to improve gross margin."