UPDATE 1-Elizabeth Arden keeps sales forecast for 1st-half; shares dip

Mon Nov 5, 2012 11:18am EST

* First-quarter adj earnings/shr $0.44 vs est $0.42

* Sales $344.5 mln vs est $336.3 mln

* Keeps 1st-half sales forecast of $825-$840 mln

* Shares down 2.3 pct

Nov 5 (Reuters) - Cosmetics maker Elizabeth Arden Inc reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue, helped by the launch of new fragrances, but the company disappointed investors by not raising its sales forecast, pushing down its stock.

Shares of the company, which owns fragrance licenses for fashion brands True Religion Apparel Inc and BCBGMAXAZRIA, as well as hip-hop star Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber, fell 2.3 percent in early trading.

The company, also known for its Prevage anti-aging creams, maintained its revenue forecast of $825 million to $840 million for the first half of the fiscal year.

Adjusted gross margins expanded slightly to 47.1 percent in the quarter from 46.9 percent a year earlier, falling below the expectations of some Wall Street analysts.

"The 20 percent sales increase in North America and gross margin expansion of just 20 basis points suggests that most of the growth owed to shipments to the mass market where margins are lower," BMO Capital Markets analyst Connie Maneaty wrote in a note.

Elizabeth Arden has been trying to make its namesake brand more upscale, develop its business overseas and line up more celebrity fragrances.

Net sales rose 13.5 percent to $344.5 million, in the first quarter ended Sept. 30, beating the average Wall Street estimate of $336.3 million. Sales in North America rose 20 percent.

Net income fell to $2.2 million, or 7 cents per share, from $9.2 million, or 31 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 44 cents per share. Analysts were looking for earnings of 42 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Elizabeth Arden shares were at $46.40 on the Nasdaq at midday on Monday.

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