The absence of a tax benefit taken a year earlier cut Hain Celestial Group Inc.'s earnings by 13.5 percent in its third fiscal quarter, the maker of natural and organic food products said Thursday.

But sales and operating income rose in the three months ended March 31, said the Lake Success-based company, one of Long Island's fastest growing publicly traded businesses.

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Net income was $35.2 million or 69 cents a share, down from $40.7 million or 85 cents a share. The prior year's results were boosted by a tax deduction of $13.2 million, or 28 cents a share. The company attributed the tax benefit to "a worthless stock tax deduction for an investment in one of the Company's UK subsidiaries."

Hain said net sales of $557.4 million in the first quarter were a record for any quarter, and up 22 percent from a year earlier. Operating income was $63.6 million, up 25 percent from a year earlier.

In a statement, company founder, president and chief executive Irwin D. Simon said, "We continue to experience strong demand for our organic and natural brands as demonstrated by the increasing consumption of our products."

Shares of Hain rose $3.60, or 4.23 percent, to close at $88.76 on the Nasdaq exchange.

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Events during the quarter including closing on the acquisition of Tilda, a rice brand, which expanded its branded grocery products with basmati rice.