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(July 25, 2001) -- Bouncing back from a series of earnings disappointments last year that toppled its former CEO, Dial Corp. delivered a rare upside surprise in the package-goods industry today.

Dial reported second-quarter net income of $14.7 million, up dramatically from $1.1million a year ago. Earnings per share were 16 cents a share, 2 cents ahead of consensus earnings forecasts and well ahead of 1 cent a year ago. Without acquisitions, divestitures, restructuring charges and one-time gains and items, earnings per share last year were 10 cents. Net sales were up 7.5% to $439.3 million for the quarter.

Dial's marketing spending as a percent of sales were up 1.5 percentage points, though the company did not divulge overall marketing spending.

Chairman-CEO Herb Baum said, "Our trade spending is down modestly and our consumer marketing is up, which is just the way I manage a company."

Mr. Baum said Dial bar and liquid body soap market shares improved slightly in the quarter after falling in the first quarter in the face of competitive activity, primarily from Unilever's Suave value brand.

Dial's own value Purex brand saw its unit market share reach a record 12.5% of the laundry detergent category, Mr. Baum said, up 1.5 points from last year despite discontinuation of the Purex Advanced premium line.

Shares of Dial closed up 16% to $16.81. -- Jack Neff

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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