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Dial Posts Strong Third Quarter Operating Results



Published October 17, 2002
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The Dial Corporation, Scottsdale, AZ, reported net sales rose 4.1% to $347.2 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 28, 2002. Excluding Argentina where sales were reduced by the peso devaluation, total company net sales would have increased approximately 7.1%, according to executives. Sales in Argentina in the third quarter were $13.2 million versus $21.7 million in the same period last year.

Net income was $31.1 million or $0.33 per share (diluted) compared to a loss of $185.4 million or $2.03 per share (diluted) in the year-ago period. The loss in the year-ago period resulted primarily from write-offs associated with the sale of the company's Specialty Personal Care (SPC) business and the closure of manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Compton, CA.

"Higher domestic sales, particularly of our personal cleansing and laundry care products, coupled with continued improvement in gross margin contributed to Dial's strong results for the quarter," said Herbert M. Baum chairman, president, and chief executive officer, The Dial Corporation. "We also benefited from increased operating efficiencies and lower interest expense from reduced debt."

Sales of the company's four core domestic businesses rose 7.2% in the third quarter compared to last year. Sales gains were led by the laundry care and personal cleansing businesses. Laundry care sales rose 13.9%-primarily from higher sales of Purex liquid detergents. Personal Cleansing sales grew 8.3% with strong performance in body wash and liquid. Air Freshener sales fell 5.1% as a result of discontinued product lines, weakness in candles and promotional costs for new products. Yet, Renuzit's No. 1 selling Adjustable air freshener line was up 13.3%.

For the nine months ended Sept. 28, net income was $46.1 million compared to a loss of $157.6 million in the year-ago period. The improved performance was primarily a result of higher domestic sales, gross margin improvement and better results in Argentina, executives said. Net sales for the first nine months of 2002 were up 4.9% to $988 million.

Mr. Baum noted, "We have entered the fourth quarter with good momentum. Based upon current business conditions, and taking into account planned investment in our brands in the fourth quarter, we expect full year 2002 earnings per share from continuing operations and before special items to be approximately $1.22."


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