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Hain Celestial logs record sales, profits

Hain Celestial chief executive Irwin Simon in his

Hain Celestial chief executive Irwin Simon in his Melville office. Credit: Newsday, 2012 / Thomas A. Ferrara

Hain Celestial Group Inc. of Lake Success Thursday reported record sales and profits for its third fiscal quarter as it grew strongly in the United States, Canada and Europe.

It also said it closed Thursday on the acquisition of a British premium baby food maker, Ella's Kitchen Group Limited. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Hain, the natural and organic food producer known for brands such as Celestial Seasonings, said net earnings in the quarter ended March 31 totaled $40.7 million, up almost 69 percent from a year earlier. Sales were $456.1 million, up more than 21 percent. Per-share earnings were 72 cents, up 29 percent.

The company's earnings, released after the close of regular trading, met analysts' estimates but sales fell short, according to Bloomberg News. Hain's shares were down $2 at $63.50 in after-hours trading.

Hain president and chief executive Irwin D. Simon said sales and profit growth was "led by Hain Celestial U.S." He also cited grocery brands in the United Kingdom and a focus on "higher margin brand growth and the elimination of unprofitable private label sales." And he cited strength in Canada, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.

Hain Celestial U.S. reported net sales of $277.6 million for the quarter.

Ella's Kitchen generated about $70 million in sales in calendar year 2012 and is expected to add five to eight cents a share to Hain Celestial's earnings in fiscal year 2014, Hain said.

Simon said Ella's Kitchen would complement Hain's Earth's Best line of infant, toddler and children's products, including food, diapers and wipes. Earth's Best annual sales now are more than $150 million.

In announcing earnings Thursday, Hain also updated its annual guidance for fiscal year 2013, including sales of about $1.7 billion, up about 26 percent from the previous fiscal year, and earnings per share ranging from $2.43 to $2.47, up by about a third.

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