Blyth lights up the party with its wicked products. As the largest candle maker in the US, Blyth sells its scented and unscented candles under the PartyLite, Colonial Candle, Ambria, and Seasons of Cannon Falls names, among others. Its portfolio also extends beyond the candle business with Sterno butane products and lighting, Two Sisters Gourmet sauces and condiments, and ViSalus nutritional supplements, as well as a variety of catalog and online businesses that market household goods and gifts. Blyth's products are sold through home parties and retailers worldwide. It also supplies institutional customers, such as restaurants and hotels. The company was founded in 1977.
Reduced discretionary spending by consumers amid the global economic downturn has constrained Blyth's revenues in recent years. The company's North American PartyLite business has been hampered by lower sales as well as by a shrinking base of independent sales representatives (who market products through home-based parties). Weaker European currencies also led to declining sales in fiscal 2011. Just a year earlier Europe's favorable exchange rates and growing ranks of sales representatives helped to offset some of the lost revenue in North America. Blyth's direct-selling division generates more than 60% of revenue while the catalog/Internet and wholesale divisions each contribute more than 15%. Blyth aims to ignite sales in the years ahead by offering monthly sales and productivity incentives to its independent sales representatives and distributors.
Despite falling revenues, Blyth's bottom line has grown since fiscal 2009. (That year it was $15 million in the red, largely the result of $48 million in goodwill and impairments for the catalog/Internet division.) The company was stuck with $16 million in impairment charges related to its direct-selling division in fiscal 2010, but it managed to post $17 million in profits. Mostly free of charges in fiscal 2011, Blyth's net income rose to $25 million. The company hopes to continue boosting earnings through sales of higher margin products and expense reductions.
To build up cash reserves and streamline its operations, Blyth is purging some of its non-core businesses. The company parted ways with gourmet coffee and tea seller Boca Java in 2011. Boca Java had been facing decreased consumer demand -- its sales fell by nearly 35% in fiscal 2011. As part of the disposal, Blyth recorded a $1 million impairment charge. Also in 2011 Blyth sold the assets of its Midwest-CBK premium seasonal and home decor business to MVP Group, a maker of private label candles and home fragrance items, for $35 million (consisting of $23 million in cash and a $12 million promissory note).
The company is aiming to boost its business through an expanded selection of products. To that end, Blyth has built a 57% stake in vitamin and nutritional supplement merchant ViSalus Holdings, through two purchases (in 2008 and 2011). Under the terms of the agreement, Blyth will be required to buy more of ViSalus' stock in 2012 and 2013 if ViSalus meets predefined operating targets. ViSalus extends Blyth's marketing reach into dietary supplements, weight management products, and energy drinks.
Chairman and CEO Robert Goergen, Sr., owns more than 30% of Blyth.
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