Shares of Helen of Troy Limited (HELE - Free Report) gained about 5% on Jul 9, on robust first-quarter fiscal 2021 results. During the quarter, both top and bottom lines increased year over year and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Results largely gained from strength in the Health and Home unit, thanks to higher demand amid the pandemic. Also, solid online sales and contributions from Drybar Products’ acquisition were drivers. However, store closures by key customers due to COVID-19 affected the Housewares and Beauty segments.
Given the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, management did not provide any guidance for fiscal 2021. While the company has been undertaking measures to preserve cash flow and curtail costs, given a solid first-quarter show, management said that it is relaxing some of these measures and making certain investments in its Phase II Transformation efforts. Apart from this, as part of its strategy of keeping focus on Leadership Brands, the company had decided to divest some assets in its mass-market personal care business (Personal Care) during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020. The company expects the divestiture to close in fiscal 2021.
We note that shares of this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company have surged 51.8% in the past three months compared with the industry’s growth of 18.4%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Results in Detail
Adjusted earnings rallied 22.8% year over year to $2.53 per share, easily surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.57. Higher operating income in the Health and Home segment was the key driver, partly offset by softness in the Housewares segment, elevated interest costs and an increase in the number of shares outstanding.
Net sales advanced 11.8% year over year to $420.8 million, beating the consensus mark of $369.3 million. The year-over-year upside was driven by 11.1% organic sales growth and gains from the acquisition of Drybar Products. Notably, organic sales growth was backed by brick and mortar strength in domestic as well as international sales in the Health and Home unit along with solid online sales. This was somewhat negated by soft organic sales in the Beauty and Housewares segment due to the pandemic-led store closures by key customers, reduced discretionary demand and currency headwinds.
Consolidated gross margin expanded 1.8 percentage points to 42.6%, courtesy of favorable product mix in the Organic Beauty business as well as the Health and Home segment, positive impact from Drybar Products' buyout, improved channel mix in the Housewares unit and reduced air freight charges. This was partly countered by an adverse mix of Housewares sales in the overall top line, an adverse mix within the Housewares unit, increased direct import sales and currency woes.
Adjusted operating income rose 19.8% to $71.1 million and the adjusted operating margin expanded 1.1 percentage points to 16.9%. The upside in operating margin can be attributable to improved sales, factors aiding the gross margin and cost-containment efforts. Adjusted EBITDA grew 20% to $76 million.
Net sales in the Housewares segment dropped 3% due to temporary closure of key customer stores stemming from coronavirus, soft international sales and currency headwinds. This was partly compensated by strong online sales for OXO and Hydro Flask, increased club sales and product introductions. Adjusted operating income in the unit declined 20.3% to $27.4 million.
Net sales in the Health & Home segment advanced 29.1%, thanks to Organic business growth of 30.2%. Organic sales were backed by burgeoning demand for healthy living and healthcare products across domestic and international markets, both in stores and online. The store closure impact was lesser in this segment as core retail giants like Walmart (WMT - Free Report) , Target (TGT - Free Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , to name a few, and the drug store channel remained operational and saw high traffic. These factors were partially offset by an unfavorable currency movement as well as the impact from net distribution changes. Adjusted operating income soared 75.7% to $37.3 million.
Sales in the Beauty segment improved 5%, mainly owing to contributions from the buyout of Drybar Products, online strength and product introductions. The upside was countered by softness in the Organic business due to customer store closures, weak personal care business, lower discretionary demand, supply hurdles for a key product as well as currency-related challenges. Adjusted operating income surged 72.7% to $6.4 million.
Other Financial Details
The company ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $88.5 million and total debt (short and long-term) of $324.9 million. Net cash from operating activities for the period came in at $92.8 million.
These Stocks Are Poised to Soar Past the Pandemic
The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted consumer behavior dramatically, and a handful of high-tech companies have stepped up to keep America running. Right now, investors in these companies have a shot at serious profits. For example, Zoom jumped 108.5% in less than 4 months while most other stocks were sinking.
Our research shows that 5 cutting-edge stocks could skyrocket from the exponential increase in demand for “stay at home” technologies. This could be one of the biggest buying opportunities of this decade, especially for those who get in early.
See the 5 high-tech stocks now>>