* Q3 EPS excluding items $0.02 vs St view loss $0.06
* Sales rise 6.6 percent to $231.1 million
* Stands by FY EPS forecast of $1.40-$1.50
* Shares down 2.5 pct to $30.93 (Adds company comments, expectations, stock activity, byline)
By Jessica Wohl
CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) - Elizabeth Arden Inc RDEN.O maintained its profit forecast on Thursday even after posting stronger-than-expected results, and its shares fell more than 2 percent.
The pace of growth in international business slowed substantially to 4 percent during the fiscal third quarter, down from 12 percent in the fiscal second quarter.
The international issues, which stem from plans such as tightening distribution and raising some prices, should be temporary, said Chairman and Chief Executive E. Scott Beattie.
International revenue should bounce back to about 10 percent this quarter, Beattie said during a conference call.
The international sales growth was half of what BMO Capital Markets Connie Maneaty had anticipated. But she kept her “outperform” rating on the company’s shares, saying she was pleased with the overall quality of the results.
Elizabeth Arden’s products are marketed to a variety of shoppers, from those buying fragrances at Wal-Mart to others who want the pricey Prevage skincare line.
Meanwhile, competitor Revlon Inc (REV.N) posted a higher quarterly profit, helped by U.S. sales. Its shares jumped 6.3 percent. [ID:nL3E7FS2V9]
The company lost $3.3 million, or 12 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter that ended March 31, compared with a loss of $3.9 million, or 14 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Elizabeth Arden earned 2 cents per share, well ahead of the loss of 6 cents per share analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 6.6 percent to $231.1 million, ahead of Wall Street’s average forecast of $226.57 million.
In February, the maker of Prevage anti-aging creams and fragrances sold under the names of celebrities such as Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor and Usher forecast a loss of 5 cents to 8 cents per share on sales of $222 million to $228 million.
Sales in North America rose 8 percent in the third quarter, after being flat in the second quarter.
Elizabeth Taylor fragrance sales have been stronger since the actress died in March, and the company will mark the 20th anniversary of her White Diamonds perfume this winter.
The company still expects to earn $1.40 to $1.50 per share this fiscal year, excluding items, with sales up 4 percent to 5 percent. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.48 per share. (Reporting by Jessica Wohl and Brad Dorfman; editing by John Wallace and Gunna Dickson)