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Alberto off to strong start in ‘09

This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet

Executive Summary

Alberto Culver books fiscal 2009 first-quarter sales of roughly $352.8 mil., up 2.8% on a reported basis, or 9.5% organically; pretax earnings, excluding restructuring costs, rose 24.5% to nearly $61 mil. Firm's domestic business grew 8% on strength of TRESemme and Nexxus, surpassing Unilever to become No. 3 in the U.S. hair-care sector, President and CEO Jim Marino notes during Jan. 26 call. International sales declined 5% on a reported basis due largely to a 24% negative currency impact, Alberto says, pointing out that TRESemme sales advanced double digits overseas. Nexxus also generated strong growth in the first quarter and currently is rolling out to Canada, with a launch in Chile targeted for later this year. Regarding Noxzema, acquired from Procter & Gamble in September 2007, Alberto is working on its integration "in addition to investing in consumer market research and actively developing a brand strategy that will better position [it] for 2010." Advertising and other marketing investments dropped 12.6% to $49.4 mil. in Q1, but the firm expects to up its investment as the year goes on. "We remain committed to our strategy of focusing on our key brands in our core markets while bringing innovation," Executive Chairman Carol Lavin Bernick states. Marino notes, however, that in the "very unique economic environment, it is impossible to predict how the remainder of this year will play out.
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