(Corrects sales in 8th paragraph to $1.24 billion from $1.23 billion)
By Dhanya Skariachan
NEW YORK, May 3 (Reuters) - Newell Rubbermaid Inc said on Friday it will sell its hardware and teaching aids businesses, as the maker of Sharpie pens and Rubbermaid storage containers tries to offload non-core assets and focus on more profitable units.
The company reported a 31.7 percent drop in first-quarter net income mainly on restructuring costs, as it joins other consumer products makers in taking steps to improve productivity to offset soft sales.
The businesses that will be sold include the Bulldog, Shurline, Ashland, Amerock and Mimio brands, and the drapery hardware unit. Together, they had sales of slightly more than $300 million last year.
“They do not fit with our strategy,” Newell Chief Executive Mike Polk said.
Since he took the helm in July 2011, the company has cut jobs, consolidated manufacturing and distribution facilities and reduced the number of business units to trim costs.
Net income fell to $54.2 million, or 19 cents a share in the three months ended March 31, from $79.3 million or 27 cents a share a year earlier.
Excluding restructuring costs, a charge related to the currency devaluation in Venezuela, a tax benefit and a charge tied to discontinued operations, Newell earned 35 cents a share.
The company, which also makes Graco strollers, Calphalon cookware and Paper Mate pens, said net sales fell 0.8 percent to $1.24 billion. Sales were particularly weak in the writing products business.
Newell also stood by its full-year outlook calling for earnings of $1.78 to $1.84 a share, excluding items, and a sales rise of 2 percent to 4 percent excluding foreign currency fluctuations. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Stephen Coates)