* Q4 EPS ex-items $0.81 vs Wall Street view $0.95
* Sales $1.06 bln vs Street view $1.12 bln
* Launches restructuring of unit that includes batteries
* Shares sink more than 9 percent (Rewrites, adds analysts’ comments, byline, stock drop)
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Energizer Holdings Inc (ENR.N) posted a quarterly profit that missed expectations on weak demand for its shaving products and launched a restructuring of its battery unit that analysts said was too modest, sending shares down more than 9 percent.
The company’s board authorized a multiyear plan for its battery unit to accelerate investments and streamline global manufacturing, including job cuts. No further details of the long-anticipated plan were provided.
Energizer has been hurt by the increasing use of devices with built-in rechargeable battery systems, as well as volatile commodity markets and aggressive competition.
It was also hit by surprisingly flat sales in its wet shave business, despite the launch of a new Schick Hydro razor that competes with razors by Procter & Gamble’s (PG.N) Gillette, analysts said.
Goldman Sachs analyst Andrew Sawyer said in a research note that the company’s core sales fell 1 percent compared with his forecast for a 5 percent gain, mostly due to the shaving unit. Battery sales also disappointed, down 2 percent instead of Sawyer’s flat forecast.
Energizer’s net income for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to $84.8 million, or $1.20 a share, compared with $37.1 million, or 53 cents a share, a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, it earned 81 cents a share, far below the 95 cents analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected.
Total sales fell 1.9 percent to $1.06 billion as demand declined in the company’s household products and personal care businesses. Analysts had expected $1.12 billion.
J.P. Morgan analyst John Faucher, with an “overweight” rating, expects analysts’ estimates for 2011 earnings will come down due to the miss.
Energizer said the battery unit restructuring will result in pretax charges in the range of $65 million to $85 million over the next 12 months, with most related to changes in manufacturing.
It said specific action had not been determined, but annual pretax savings, related mostly to job cuts and the changes in manufacturing, would be in the range of $25 million to $35 million by the end of fiscal 2012.
Goldman’s Sawyer and J.P. Morgan’s Faucher both said the plan’s size is smaller than expected.
Energizer said the cost of commodities and raw materials will hurt 2011 results in the range of $20 million to $30 million, due mostly to higher zinc and steel costs.
It also said favorable foreign exchange rates in fiscal 2011 compared with average rates in 2010 will boost results in the range of $20 million to $30 million.
In the household products unit, fourth-quarter sales fell 2 percent due mostly to lower sales in Venezuela, as well as the sale of larger packs of batteries, which has hurt pricing.
Sales fell the same amount in the personal care unit. Segment profit was off 42 percent due mostly to higher promotional spending behind the Schick Hydro launch.
Shares of Energizer were off 9.3 percent at $66.53 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Before Tuesday, the shares had risen almost 50 percent since July. (Additional reporting by Jon Lentz in New York; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Dave Zimmerman)