An increase in sales and moves to improve productivity have offset higher raw-material costs and led to improved first-quarter profits at US firm Hain Celestial.

The company, which last week acquired UK chilled foods maker Daniels Group, yesterday (1 November) reported a 28.5% increase in net income to US$11.7m for the three months to the end of September. Earnings per share were $0.26, up from $0.21 a year earlier. Non-GAAP earnings per share was $0.29. Operating income climbed 23.3% to $22.9m.

Hain Celestial said its input costs had risen by 4.5% year-on-year but said a "favourable mix" of product sales and cost savings helped profits.

Net sales increased 13.3% to $292.4m as the company increased distribution and saw "strong contributions" from brands including Earth's Best and Linda McCartney.

"We have seen a strong start to our fiscal year as we continue to experience favourable growth trends across our branded portfolio, despite the challenging economy," president and CEO Irwin Simon said. "Consumption trends improved year-over-year driven by consumers seeking out our natural and organic products."

Last week, in the wake of the Daniels takeover, Hain Celestial upped its forecasts for the current financial year. On a non-GAAP basis, it expects net sales to reach $1.46-1.48bn and earnings per share to be $1.63-1.73.