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July 9, 2009

Looking Up at Ulta: Net Sales Rise 12.3%

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. posted favorable financial results for the first quarter ended May 2, 2009. Net sales increased 12.3% to $268.8 million. Operating income rose 10.8% to $9 million.

“In a difficult retail environment, we continue to build our customer base and grow loyalty to the Ulta brand, as evidenced by the 2% increase in traffic and expansion in our market share,” said Lyn Kirby, Ulta’s president and chief executive officer. “As a result, our comparable store sales were at the top end of our first quarter guidance and with careful expense control we achieved earnings ahead of our guidance. Additionally, the prudent management of working capital and capital investment drove $5.6 million in free cash flow for the quarter.”

For the second quarter of fiscal 2009, the company expects net sales of $264 million to $272 million.

Sales Increase 5.5% to $4.2 Billion at Cognis

In 2008, global specialty chemicals supplier Cognis increased its net external sales by 5.5% to $4.2 billion. All strategic business units—Cognis Care Chemicals, Nutrition & Health and Functional Products—contributed to this growth, according to the company.

According to Cognis’ chief executive officer Antonio Trius, “Despite an extremely difficult environment in 2008, we successfully managed to strengthen our position in our key markets. Consumers’ growing desire for personal wellbeing and heightened awareness of environmental sustainability are increasingly converging in the new green lifestyle, which in turn is reaffirming and validating our strategy.”

Personal Care Up 4% at Unilever

Current economic conditions have consumers trading in their fancy skin care and shower gels for value products at the local drugstore or supermarket. With that, Unilever reported its personal care products were up 4% in sales for its first quarter 2009 report. This was a plus in the 1Q findings, as Unilever posted a 45% fall in net profit for the first quarter to $973 million.

Strong Finish at NHT in 4Q Report

Personal care distributor Natural Health Trends Corp. (NHT) posted its financial results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008. The company reported sales of $11.1 million and net income of $229,000, after de-recognizing $2.2 million in past year commission liabilities in the fourth quarter of 2008. Last year’s data was not released by the company for percentage comparison.

Chris Sharng, the company’s president, said, “We had a strong finish for the year 2008. Our deferred revenue, which represents orders not shipped as of Dec. 31, was higher than at the end of the third quarter.”

The company expects additional measures to reduce SG&A and cost of goods sold that were identified by the end of 2008 will generate cost savings of $500,000 per quarter, to be fully realized by June. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2008, NHT implemented a price increase in Hong Kong, Europe and North America that it expects will further bolster the gross profit margin, according to the company.