The Hain Celestial Group, a natural and organic food firm, has reported an increase of 10% in its second quarter sales, which have risen to US$186.2m. The group’s net income has risen by 19% from the previous year, to $12.7m. Diluted earnings for the second quarter were $0.33 per share, up from $0.29 for the second quarter of last year.

“I am proud of our team as we accomplished record sales and profits with significant improvement in operating margins and our cash conversion,” said Irwin D. Simon, president and CEO.

The company’s gross profit for the second quarter was 32.3%, up from 31.4% in the previous year before consolidation of the company’s lower margin Hain Pure Protein joint venture, which reduced gross profit by 1.1%. Operating income grew 20.3% to $21.7m in the period while selling, general and administrative expenses decreased as a percentage of sales to 19.6% from 20.7%.

Simon concluded: “The stellar results that the company achieved over the past two years are a testament to the excellence of our people, our strong brands and our positioning within a clear growth category. Our focus and long-term strategy allow us to make the right decisions for our business today and tomorrow. We are committed to growing our brand equity through targeted new product introductions and realising new distribution opportunities while continuing to strengthen our management team.”

Hain Celestial updated its annual guidance for fiscal 2006, which has been adjusted to reflect the acquisition of Spectrum Organic Products. The company expects full year sales of between $670m and $690m and earnings of $0.98 to $1.05 per share. It is predicted that Spectrum will be accretive to earnings in fiscal year 2007, with a neutral impact on earnings for the remainder of this fiscal year.