Helen of Troy, Ltd. Earnings Call Insights: Personal Care, OXO

On Tuesday, Helen of Troy, Ltd. (NASDAQ:HELE) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what executives shared.

Personal Care 

Lee Giordano – Imperial Capital LLC: Can you talk a little more about the Personal Care segment, the performance there? Can you break it out by category in terms of appliances versus liquids?

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: This is Tom Benson. The biggest area of challenge within the Personal Care category was the liquids and lotions area. There is new competition in that area with some larger companies and there is significant increase of advertising allowance. So that was more challenging than the hair care appliance portion of Personal Care.

A Closer Look: Helen of Troy Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

Lee Giordano – Imperial Capital LLC: Then Tom, how should we think about the tax rate going forward, is the 15.7% a good run rate to use?

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: I would use rates between – somewhere between 12% and 15% depending on the quarter and the mix of income. But as we have indicated over the last couple of years, we have told people, our tax rate is going up due to the acquisitions and the areas we believe that we’ll be earning income in.

Lee Giordano – Imperial Capital LLC: Then just a couple of more housekeeping. What was long-term debt or total debt on the balance sheet at the end of the quarter and what were your capital expenditures?

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: I am sorry, what was the second part of the question?

Lee Giordano – Imperial Capital LLC: Capital Expenditures, CapEx.

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: The long-term debt is $175 million at the end of the quarter and the short-term debt is $161 million and the capital for the quarter was $3.4 million.

OXO

Jason Gere – RBC Capital Markets: Just a couple of questions. I guess, the first one, you are reiterating the sales guidance for the year, but arguably the retail environment seems like it’s tougher, FX is probably worse. So I guess, what’s changed I guess in looking forward, is it that OXO should be stronger, even though I know that it won’t hit that 13.8. Do feel better about the PUR business when it becomes part of the organic calculation? So just wondering if you could provide a little more clarity on why sales should kind of stay within that range despite some of the obvious headwinds.

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: Well, as you just saw, we did do $300 million in the first quarter, and of course we have stronger third and fourth quarters. So our projection is to do sales of $1.3 million to $1.325 million and based on our projections we still feel comfortable that we’re going to hit those numbers.

Jason Gere – RBC Capital Markets: I mean do you think – I mean is OXO likely to grow 10%, I know you said there was some increased distribution this year, which sounds terrific with the top line. So I was just wondering it seems like OXO obviously has been kind of the growth driver of the Company. So can you maybe put that in to context? I’m just trying to figure out arguably we’re going to hear from household product companies, how much FX is going to weigh down and retailers are obviously tough with inventory levels right now. So, you guys reiterating the sales, I’m just trying to think of what is little bit better than maybe what you saw a couple of months ago when you provided full year guidance?

Gerald J. Rubin – Chairman, President and CEO: Right. On the FX side, the FX affects our personal care and our healthcare/home environment more than it does the OXO business. OXO had a very strong first quarter. We do not expect that type of growth for the whole year, some of which was timing on some closeout sales. We’ve indicated mid to high single-digit growth for OXO and we’re still comfortable with that.

Jason Gere – RBC Capital Markets: How about on the appliance side, I know you said that liquid faced some new competition there. I was wondering, A, if you could talk a little about some of the competition and what you are seeing and how much more incremental advertising you need to put out there. Then the appliance side, the fourth quarter was very challenged looks like from a comp perspective. This one it feels like maybe it was pretty steady of the appliance side. So I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about those two aspects.

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: As I mentioned earlier in our Personal Care it was a challenging for that, the greatest portion of the challenge was in the liquids and lotions. We are doing advertising support in that area, there is lot of advertising, there are some new brands. But our goal is to continue to hold our market share on the appliance side we’re optimistic for the year. We (have) number of new product lines and we are also anticipating some distribution gains. So overall the hair care appliances within personal care we expect to do better than the liquids and lotions. We are in it for long-haul and we are meeting the advertising challenges there.

Jason Gere – RBC Capital Markets: Then I guess the last question and then I’ll hop off, you guys always talk about the acquisitions coming through, but with your stock down 10% today, how do you feel about stock buybacks, arguably you guys generate a lot of cash, so what’s your perspective, I know you guys like to do acquisitions, but considering where the stock is performing today and does that change your view.

Tom Benson – SVP and CFO: We always look at the stock price versus acquisition and you are right it does look pretty appetizing. I am sure this will be discussion that we’ll be having because the stock has dropped around 10% I am sure that’s one of the things that we will be talking about. Over the years we have bought stock and over other years we have spent money on acquisitions. So it’s – we are going to have to weigh this year to see what’s better for the Company, acquisitions or a stock buyback.