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Elizabeth Arden Posts 4th-Quarter Loss, Blames Retail Environment Elizabeth Arden Posts 4th-Quarter Loss, Blames Retail Environment
Wed Apr 17, 1:32 PM ET

MIAMI -- Elizabeth Arden Inc. (RDEN) swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter loss, as the difficult retail environment crimped holiday sales and caused department- store operators to trim inventories.

The fragrance and cosmetics company Wednesday said its net loss was $19.2 million, or $1.16 a share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31 , compared to net income of $600,000, or four cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Sales jumped 85% to $159.5 million from $86.2 million, largely because of the acquisition of Elizabeth Arden in January 2001 .

The company, formerly FFI Fragrances, acquired both the Elizabeth Arden and Elizabeth Taylor cosmetics and fragrances businesses from Unilever Group for $ 190 million cash and $50 million in stock, and changed its name to Elizabeth Arden Inc. once the acquisitions were complete.

The company in January slashed its fourth-quarter sales estimate to $160 million to $170 million, from $190 million to $210 million, and said it would lay off 100 employees, or 10% of its work force.

For the fiscal year, Elizabeth Arden had a net loss of $29.8 million, or $1.95 a share, compared to net income of $13.4 million, or 97 cents a share, for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2001 . Sales rose 91% to $731.5 million from $382.3 million, again because of acquisitions.

As of Jan. 31 , the company had $15.9 million in cash and borrowings of $7.7 million under its $175 million credit facility that expires in 2006. Its inventory balance of $192.3 million at year-end was approximately 8% lower than the inventory balance on Jan. 31, 2001 .

The company repeated that it is expecting fiscal first-quarter sales of $150 million to $160 million, and fiscal 2003 sales of $800 million to $840 million.

Elizabeth Arden's brands include Red Door, 5th Avenue, White Shoulders, Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds and Passion, Geoffrey Beene's Grey Flannel, Halston, Design and Wings by Giorgio Beverly Hills.

The company will launch an advertising campaign in June, "Open for Beauty," featuring actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and will introduce a new Elizabeth Arden fragrance this summer. It will launch a new Elizabeth Taylor fragrance this fall.

-Diana Rosenberg; Dow Jones Newswires; 609-520-7817

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