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00M-530 - Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test - Dump Information

Vendor Name : IBM
Exam Code : 00M-530
Exam Name : Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test
Questions and Answers : 56 Q & A
Updated On : October 12, 2018
PDF Download Mirror : 00M-530 Brain Dump
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IBM 00M-530 Exam (Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test) Detailed Information

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00M-530 Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test

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00M-530 exam Dumps Source : Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test

Test Code : 00M-530
Test Name : Systems Storage Sales Mastery(R) Test
Vendor Name : IBM
Q&A : 56 Real Questions

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IBM IBM Systems Storage Sales

IBM (IBM) reduce to sell at Zacks funding analysis | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

IBM (NYSE:IBM) was downgraded with the aid of Zacks investment analysis from a “hold” ranking to a “promote” rating in a analysis record issued to shoppers and buyers on Wednesday.

in line with Zacks, “IBM gives advanced suggestions know-how options, including laptop methods, software, storage programs and microelectronics. IBM’s advanced blockchain, cloud; laptop studying capabilities, amongst others poises its choices well to profit amazing adoption. although, we agree with the strategic imperatives will take some more time to document significant growth and offset weakness within the normal company. IBM’s ongoing heavily time-consuming company mannequin transition to cloud continues to harm the stock, which has underperformed the industry during the past 12 months. additionally, decrease IT spending, integration dangers and extending competitors are fundamental headwinds. in spite of this, IBM benefits from robust demand for z14 Mainframe and energy products. in addition, IBM’s improving place within the cloud, safety and analytics bodes smartly.”

a number of other analysis analysts have additionally commented on the inventory. Stifel Nicolaus decreased their fee goal on shares of IBM from $182.00 to $178.00 and set a “purchase” ranking for the company in a research word on Thursday, July nineteenth. usaneighborhood upgraded shares of IBM from a “impartial” rating to a “purchase” ranking and boosted their price purpose for the stock from $160.00 to $a hundred and eighty.00 in a analysis be aware on Wednesday, September twenty sixth. ValuEngine upgraded shares of IBM from a “promote” rating to a “grasp” ranking in a research observe on Thursday, July nineteenth. JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated a “$149.24” ranking and set a $157.00 cost target on shares of IBM in a research be aware on Thursday, July 19th. eventually, Deutsche bank cut their cost goal on shares of IBM to $a hundred and fifty.00 and set a “cling” score on the inventory in a research be aware on Thursday, July nineteenth. four investment analysts have rated the inventory with a promote score, ten have issued a hang ranking and ten have issued a buy rating to the business’s stock. The company at present has a consensus score of “hold” and a consensus target expense of $169.29.

Shares of NYSE IBM traded down $0.87 all over trading hours on Wednesday, hitting $152.88. 20,674 shares of the stock have been exchanged, compared to its normal volume of 4,845,249. The business has a short ratio of 1.27, a present ratio of 1.32 and a debt-to-fairness ratio of two.03. The firm has a market cap of $138.02 billion, a PE ratio of eleven.10, a cost-to-salary-increase ratio of 2.20 and a beta of 0.87. IBM has a 12 month low of $137.45 and a 12 month excessive of $171.13.

IBM (NYSE:IBM) last posted its quarterly income facts on Wednesday, July 18th. The technology business pronounced $3.08 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $three.04 with the aid of $0.04. The company had earnings of $20 billion all through the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $19.eighty five billion. IBM had a net margin of 7.13% and a return on fairness of sixty nine.84%. IBM’s income changed into up three.7% on a 12 months-over-year groundwork. right through the equal quarter within the outdated 12 months, the enterprise posted $2.ninety four EPS. equities analysis analysts count on that IBM will submit 13.eighty two revenue per share for the present fiscal yr.

In different news, insider Diane J. Gherson bought eleven,451 shares of the enterprise’s inventory in a transaction on Friday, August 3rd. The shares have been bought at a typical cost of $a hundred forty five.42, for a total price of $1,665,204.forty two. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 19,114 shares of the enterprise’s stock, valued at approximately $2,779,557.88. The transaction become disclosed in a prison submitting with the Securities & trade fee, which will also be accessed via this hyperlink. 0.17% of the inventory is owned by means of corporate insiders.

a couple of hedge cash have recently introduced to or reduced their stakes in IBM. Baird monetary group Inc. raised its place in shares of IBM via 10.2% in the 1st quarter. Baird economic group Inc. now owns 143,389 shares of the technology company’s inventory price $22,000,000 after buying an additional 13,226 shares in the closing quarter. Wealthcare Advisory companions LLC raised its place in shares of IBM by using 39.eight% in the 1st quarter. Wealthcare Advisory partners LLC now owns 2,372 shares of the know-how business’s inventory price $364,000 after acquiring an further 675 shares in the remaining quarter. Perigon Wealth management LLC raised its place in shares of IBM by 23.2% in the 1st quarter. Perigon Wealth management LLC now owns 7,161 shares of the technology company’s inventory worth $1,099,000 after acquiring an additional 1,349 shares in the final quarter. Ostrum Asset management bought a new place in shares of IBM within the 1st quarter worth about $1,523,000. finally, Bruce & Co. Inc. raised its place in shares of IBM by means of 37.6% in the 1st quarter. Bruce & Co. Inc. now owns 146,500 shares of the technology business’s inventory worth $22,477,000 after acquiring an further forty,000 shares in the closing quarter. 55.39% of the stock is at the moment owned through institutional traders and hedge dollars.

About IBM

foreign business Machines business enterprise operates as an built-in know-how and features company global. Its Cognitive solutions segment offers Watson, a cognitive computing platform that interacts in natural language, strategies large information, and learns from interactions with people and computer systems.

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Can IBM Soothe Investor Fears When It studies revenue subsequent Week? | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

When overseas business Machines(NYSE: IBM) pronounced the economic consequences of its 2017 fourth quarter in January, buyers rejoiced, because the company pronounced earnings increase for the first time in practically six years. these 22 quarters of year-over-yr income declines had plagued the business, and traders are actually cautiously confident after three successive quarters of flat to transforming into earnings.

regardless of the enhancing efficiency, Wall highway is never able to break out the bubbly, as IBM stock has fallen about 5% to this point this yr in comparison to the practically 7% profit of the S&P 500 and the ten% profit of the NASDAQ Composite.

IBM may have an opportunity to prove the naysayers incorrect and restoration investor self belief when it reviews the consequences of its just-accomplished 2018 third quarter after market shut on October sixteen. Let's study fresh results to take into account why buyers are keeping back and spot what the long run might hold.

A woman working at an IBM Z server.© IBM a lady working at an IBM Z server. boom returns -- with an asterisk...

For the second quarter of 2018, IBM mentioned income of $20 billion, an increase of three.7% year over year, and web income of $2.four billion that resulted in revenue per diluted share of $2.sixty one, a rise of 5.2% in comparison to the prior-year quarter. The business saw revenue raises in each and every of its fundamental company segments, although gadget revenue noticed the lion's share of boom, increasing basically 25% 12 months over 12 months.

IBM's high growth initiatives -- which the company calls its strategic imperatives -- also produced first rate gains. These groups, which encompass analytics, cloud computing, protection, and cellular, grew to $10.1 billion, up 13% 12 months over yr, marking the primary time the amalgamation of businesses produced greater than half of IBM's complete income.

while consequences like these are not the rest to write domestic about, they additionally are not cause for alarm, so what's got investors so fearful?

one of the vital greatest contributors to IBM's outcomes remaining quarter become its legacy gadget earnings, leaving investors frightened of what could take place when the refresh cycle of its mainframe enterprise winds down. yet another element noted by way of the doubting Thomases is the contribution alternate charges have made to the wonderful effects. in the first quarter, aside from the effect of the weak dollar, IBM's revenue become flat 12 months over yr. Ditto, in the fourth quarter of 2017, whereas IBM's revenue grew 3.5%, they improved just 1% when adjusting for currency.

looking ahead

IBM has steadfastly maintained its forecast for the 12 months, saying it expects $13.eighty in non-GAAP revenue per share, and GAAP diluted profits per share of at the least $eleven.60. The enterprise referred to free cash flow should still be about $12 billion for the yr, with a cognizance fee better than one hundred%. IBM also plans for its strategic imperatives to generate $forty billion in earnings for the twelve months ending December 2018.

The enterprise has produced three successive quarters of salary boom, but investors remain unconvinced that the decent instances are here to stay. might be this quarter, IBM can eventually however these lingering doubts to relaxation, but what's more doubtless is that the company will proceed to creep ahead with extra of the equal.

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What to search for When IBM reports Its Q3 Numbers | killexams.com Real Questions and Pass4sure dumps

[Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the time of IBM’s earnings report. It has since been updated.]

This 12 months has been rewarding for shareholders of business know-how titans like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). Microsoft stock is up 36% year-to-date, largely pushed with the aid of its starting to be cloud computing lineup, whereas Nvidia has won 33% on its deeper penetration of the AI hardware market. youngsters, a few large tech names, including international enterprise Machines (NYSE:IBM), were disregarded of the party. IBM stock is down four% given that the conclusion of closing yr.

traders are involved that IBM remains a relic that has no region on the modern expertise landscape. What if, despite the fact, the doubts that have been suppressing the IBM inventory expense are frequently unmerited? That may well be the conclusion more than a handful of traders attain after ol’ massive Blue reports its third quarter numbers. The enterprise is slated to unveil its outcomes on Oct. 16 after the close.

IBM profits Preview

As of the latest examine, analysts on average anticipated IBM to record Q3 profits of $19.1 billion and salary of $3.39 per share.

IBM suggested EPS of $three.26 on income of $19.15 billion within the same quarter a year earlier. nevertheless it’s additionally price noting that IBM’s Q1 and Q2 EPS surpassed analysts’ consensus estimates. additionally, IBM has logged yr-over-yr profits growth each quarter for the reason that this fall of last 12 months.

With the one-year anniversary of the turnaround in sight, youngsters, here's where things beginning to get difficult for IBM inventory. but if the enterprise’s outcomes are mighty,  the performance of IBM inventory could on the other hand enrich.

Over the Hump

Most traders understand that IBM effortlessly wasn’t able for the creation of cloud computing, cybersecurity, mobile devices and synthetic intelligence, all of that are subsequently interdependent. Relying too a whole lot on the electricity of its natural server and connected methods enterprise and failing to innovate an awful lot unless contemporary years, IBM saw its true-line boom deteriorate in 2012.

however there are no quick fixes within the technology sector. if you’re not invariably innovating, you’re already at the back of. That’s why IBM’s profits didn’t beginning to recuperate until the end of 2017.

big Blue’s salary increase, youngsters, has recovered, on the strength of what the business has (uncreatively) called ‘“strategic imperatives.” The latter time period refers to vital enterprise traces that weren’t a vital part of IBM’s lineup unless recently. The imperatives are cloud computing, large information, security utility, analytics, cell, and social applied sciences.

the important thing for IBM inventory should be growing to be its revenue from its strategic imperatives faster than the company has been dropping ground on every other front.

That eventually took place in the fourth quarter of last yr, when IBM’s quarterly suitable line rose for the first time in years. when you consider that then, the enterprise has endured to bring 12 months-over-yr earnings increase, besides the fact that children the modest degree of these raises has persisted to weigh on IBM stock. within the 2d quarter, for example, the enterprise’s earnings rose simply four% y-o-y.

but anything else curious additionally took place all over Q2. For the first time ever, huge Blue’s strategic imperatives accounted for more than half of its $20.0 billion of complete profits. It’s also critical to be aware that the salary generated by the enterprise’s necessary organizations surged 26% y-o-y.

So IBM’s fastest-turning out to be organizations now generate the vast majority of its salary, making it viable for the company’s sales increase to accelerate.

The  valuation of IBM inventory is already favorable, with a ahead-looking cost-salary ratio of best 10.5 that leaves a lot of room for upside.

base line for IBM stock

If IBM’s sales growth does speed up, IBM inventory may additionally beginning trending upwards again.That’s, of path,  nevertheless a big “if.” indeed, it’s an immense “if.” nevertheless it’s one value allowing for, not simply on the night of Oct. sixteen, but for the indefinite future.

As cliche as it sounds, the Q3 efficiency of IBM’s strategic imperatives could be a make-or-wreck moment for IBM stock, as these items and features were round for just a few quarters now. growing to be these corporations right out of the gate is effortless. generating continued increase isn’t so easy.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the question of whether IBM’s income growth will speed up, it should be would becould very well be shrewd to avoid protecting IBM inventory when the company reviews its Q3 results. in the wake of the effects, the stream of IBM inventory, up or down, is sure to be massive. but the knee-jerk reaction will light in dimension to the expertise lengthy-term upside or downside of IBM inventory over the longer term.

As of this writing, James Brumley did not cling a place in any of the aforementioned securities. that you could observe him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.


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Helen of Troy Limited (HELE) Q2 2019 Earnings Conference Call Transcript | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble with words 'Fool Transcripts' below it© The Motley Fool Logo of jester cap with thought bubble with words 'Fool Transcripts' below it

Helen of Troy Limited(NASDAQ: HELE)

Q2 2019 Earnings Conference Call

Oct. 9, 2018, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:
  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants
  • Prepared Remarks:

    Operator

    Good day and welcome to the Helen of Troy Limited Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Jack Jancin, Senior Vice President, Corporate Business Development. Please go ahead, sir.

    Jack Jancin -- Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development

    Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Helen of Troy's Second Quarter Fiscal 2019 Earnings Conference Call. The agenda for today's call is as follows: I'll begin with a brief discussion of forward-looking statements. Mr. Julien Mininberg, the company's CEO, will comment on the financial performance of the quarter and specific progress on our strategic initiatives. Then, Mr. Brian Grass, the company's CFO, will review the financials in more detail and comment on the company's outlook for fiscal 2019. Following this, Mr. Mininberg and Mr. Grass will take questions you have for us today.

    This conference call may contain certain forward-looking statements that are based on management's current expectations with respect to future events or financial performance. Generally, the words "anticipates," "believes," "expects," and other words similar are words identifying forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause anticipated results to differ materially from actual results.

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    This conference call may also include information that may be considered non-GAAP financial information. These non-GAAP measures are not an alternative to GAAP financial information and may be calculated differently than the non-GAAP financial information disclosed by other companies. The company cautions listeners not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements or non-GAAP information.

    Before I turn the call over to Mr. Mininberg, I'd like to inform all interested parties that a copy of today's earnings release has been posted to the company's website at www.hotus.com. The earnings release contains tables that reconcile non-GAAP financial measures to their corresponding GAAP-based measures. The release can be obtained by selecting the Investor Relations tab on the company's homepage, and then the News tab. I will now turn the conference call over to Mr. Mininberg.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Thank you, Jack, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. This morning, we reported outstanding second-quarter results, driven by continued excellence in executing the strategic choices in our transformation plan. This is delivering healthy results in the business and further improving the capabilities of our organization.

    In the second quarter, we grew both the top and bottom line as we benefited from continued momentum in key areas of our business. Consolidated net sales grew 14.1% and adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations increased by 20%. Net sales growth was led by our leadership brands, which increased approximately 20.5%, and our digital initiatives, which contributed to online sales growth of approximately 16%. During the quarter, marketing investment in the leadership brands was on pace with our original outlook. Market shares remain healthy across our leadership brands as we invest in them further, and as consumers continue to seek out and prefer our brands.

    During the quarter, we further improved our profitability as we continued to see benefits from the sweeter mix of our leadership brand focus, results from our online and marketing investments, operating leverage as we grow, and greater efficiencies generated from our strategic set of shared service initiatives. The meaningful work done to upgrade our organization and people systems continues to deliver excellence in execution and even better adherence to best practices. We believe this, combined with Project Refuel and our next-level set of IT and supply chain initiatives, should position us well to make further improvements to our profitability longer-term.

    In line with consumption trends in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we experienced healthy customer replenishment in key businesses following the strong sell-through of our products in the prior two quarters. Our strategic priority to improve our asset efficiency continues to bear fruit, with further improvement in Helen of Troy's inventory, which declined 10.6% year over year in the quarter. Inventory levels remain healthy at retail customers where we have visibility. Some are taking on additional stock ahead of tariff impact or potential price increases.

    The second quarter caps an outstanding first half to our fiscal year with net sales up 11.6%, our leadership brands growing 17.7%, adjusted operating margin up 1.4 percentage points, and adjusted EPS growth of 25.8%. Based upon our second-quarter results, we are pleased to increase our full-year outlook even as we make additional incremental marketing investment behind the most attractive opportunities in our leadership brands.

    The second half of the year is not without its challenges, including rising input costs and the adverse impact of tariffs. However, we are confident we have the right strategies in place to mitigate the majority of these factors and exceed our original expectations for the year. We are increasing our adjusted diluted EPS outlook to $7.65 to $7.90 from $7.45 to $7.70 per share. We are also increasing our fiscal 2019 consolidated net sales outlook to $1.535 billion to $1.560 billion from $1.485 to $1.510.

    Before I provide you with an update on our business segments and execution against our strategic plan this morning, I would like to let you know that we are celebrating our 50th anniversary. Since 1968, we have grown into a worldwide leader in consumer products. Our people make Helen of Troy the company it is today. They are also the key to the next level of success of our company for consumers, for our customers, for our shareholders, and for the communities in which we live and work. Every day, our team of approximately 1,500 associates around the world feel and act like passionate owners, who bring their experience and skills to build strong businesses and create best-in-class capabilities in every corner of our company.

    Ownership behavior is important to our culture. It binds us together to do our very best. It is so important that we recently awarded 50 Helen of Troy stock units to every associate at all levels and all locations, vesting over the next three years. Internally, we call these "transformation shares," as they are so deeply connected to the current and future transformation of Helen of Troy. The transformation shares will make all of our associates even more deeply connected to the company and to each other, and to continue to think and act in the best interests of our shareholders.

    Turning now to our business segments, in Health and Home, our largest and most global business, we achieved strong results in the second quarter, with our net sales up 20.3% and adjusted operating margin improvement of 0.9 percentage points. Seasonal products were a key sales driver in the quarter, including incremental distribution and shelf space gains with existing customers. We also achieved continued excellent growth in online sales.

    Our Honeywell air purifier business continues to thrive, especially in the United States. Sales for our market-leading Honeywell air purifiers received an additional boost during the second quarter as West Coast consumers struggled with the tragic impact of summer wildfires. Our Honeywell business also benefited from solid fan performance during the hot summer months and new heater distribution as retailers prepare for the upcoming winter season. Vicks humidification also experienced strong results as retailers begin to prepare for the upcoming cough, cold, and flu season following the particularly strong sell-through last year. The Braun brand continues its momentum, growing online and expanding its brick-and-mortar distribution, particularly in Asia.

    The Housewares segment delivered an impressive quarter as well, with net sales increasing 19.4% and adjusted operating margin remaining steady at 22.4%. Business fundamentals and our execution remain strong as OXO and Hydro Flask each posted healthy growth during the quarter and continue to win with consumers and customers online and in brick-and-mortar. Our investments in innovation, new distribution, additional marketing, and e-commerce are working and providing good returns. We are seeing healthy point-of-sale momentum and replenishment across the Housewares segment. Both brands continue to execute on advancing and upgrading digital content to attract more consumers to our proven designs as well as educate them on our outstanding stream of new products.

    More engaging digital content and online sales support contributed to strong growth in online sales. OXO's second-quarter results featured strong execution across the brand's broad portfolio. Food storage, bath, cooking preparation, and cooking utensils were notable as they experienced incremental distribution and shelf space gains in brick-and-mortar with existing customers and further progress online. OXO also secured opportunistic sales into the club channel compared to the second quarter last year. The brand continues to earn more industry recognition. Recently, OXO's iconic position won a Fast Company 2018 Innovation by Design Award in their category of Timeless Design.

    Hydro Flask delivered a strong quarter even after a number of Hydro Flask customers accelerated some second-quarter orders into the first quarter in advance of our previously discussed integration of Hydro Flask into our Helen of Troy Oracle ERP system. That integration has gone well, and is creating new efficiencies. Our inventory remains in a healthy position across the Hydro Flask business. Customer order replenishment was largely in line with the accelerated sell-through from Hydro Flask and its new products ahead of last year, when replenishment lagged demand. Hydro Flask's No. 1 share position continues to expand, picking up additional share points in the quarter as well as over the past year.

    Now turning to Beauty, our results primarily reflect Project Refuel and our strategic choices to further streamline and optimize our portfolio. Net sales were down 4.2% in the quarter. Partially offsetting the overall decline, we experienced growth in several areas of Beauty, including international sales as well as online, where we see continued momentum resulting from our efforts to significantly improve performance in this channel. We continue improving our Beauty appliance assortment by replacing low-performing items with tested new ones and more profitable performers. Consumer-centric innovation is a key strategic component as we create new items to better meet consumer needs and styles. Our new best-in-class flat irons for Revlon and Hot Tools continue to grow sales and earn strong consumer reviews as we pursue an attractive opportunity to increase our flat iron position in the retail and professional markets.

    Before I turn the call over to Brian, I want to thank our team of associates around the globe. Their dedication, enthusiasm, and ownership behavior underpin the strength of Helen of Troy, helping us achieve excellent business results in the first half of the fiscal year. We believe we are well positioned to achieve our new, upwardly revised full-year objectives and set the stage for further progress thereafter. We continue to see opportunity across all of our strategies, including M&A. We have solid financial flexibility that allows us to deploy capital toward accretive acquisitions and potential further share repurchases. I believe the best is yet to come for Helen of Troy, and with that, I would like to turn the call over to Brian.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Thank you, Julien. Good morning, everyone. Before discussing the quarter in more detail, I'd like to remind everyone of a couple points. First, my comments today will be regarding our results from continuing operations for both the second quarter of fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2018 unless otherwise indicated. Upon the divestiture of Healthy Directions in December 2017, we no longer consolidate the Nutritional Supplement segment's operating results. Second, during the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we adopted the new revenue recognition and accounting standard.

    As a result, we have reclassified certain expenses from SG&A to a reduction of net sales revenue. Corresponding amounts in both periods have been reclassified to conform with the current-period presentation so that both periods are comparable. Please see the related table and footnotes in the accompanying press release for further information. In addition, because I'll be commenting on a higher mix of shipments made on a direct import basis during the quarter, I will briefly discuss how they impact our income statements and balance sheet. As some of you may know, with direct import sales, product is shipped directly from our supplier to the customer to meet expected seasonal demand, relieving us from carrying the related inventory.

    These sales have a lower gross profit margin, but they also have lower operating expenses, which make them largely neutral to our operating margin. In terms of the impact on our balance sheet, a higher mix of direct imports on a year-over-year basis improves our inventory turnover, since we did not carry the inventory, but will generally increase our accounts receivable due to the longer payment terms associated with these sales. The increase in direct import sales mix is primarily due to incremental distribution and retailer replenishment of low inventory levels after last year's strong cold/flu season.

    Now, turning to a review of the quarter, consolidated sales revenue was $393.5 million, a 14.1% increase over the prior year. Revenue growth was driven primarily by an increase in domestic brick-and-mortar sales in our Housewares and Health and Home segments, strong online sales, and growth in international. Sales in the online channel grew approximately 16% year over year to comprise approximately 15% of our consolidated net sales in the second quarter. Leading our net sales growth was an increase in leadership brand sales of approximately 20%. Our leadership brands represented approximately 81% of our consolidated net sales for the quarter compared to approximately 77% for the same period last year.

    Housewares' net sales increased 19.4%, reflecting strong point-of-sale growth at brick-and-mortar, healthy inventory rebalancing with certain customers compared to the same period last year, increased online sales, and new product introductions. We also had moderate incremental club sales as we took advantage of opportunities to offer unique product sets at an attractive value proposition that are a good fit for the channel. As I mentioned last quarter, the club model turns over its shelf placement much more often than traditional retailers, and it is possible that these same programs will not repeat next year or they will not be replaced with new programs.

    Hydro Flask sales were also strong despite the acceleration of orders into the first quarter by retailers in advance of the integration of Hydro Flask into the company's ERP system. Looking at year-to-date results for Housewares, excluding the impact of the incremental club business, net sales have grown 13.9%.

    Health and Home net sales increased 20.3%, benefiting from higher sales of seasonal products, online growth, incremental distribution and shelf space gains with existing customers, and growth in international sales. These factors were partially offset by the unfavorable comparative impact from the retail fill-in of a new product introduction in the same period last year. Beauty net sales decreased 4.2%, primarily due to a decline in brick-and-mortar sales and the rationalization of certain brands and products, which more than offset continued growth in the online channel. Segment net sales were unfavorably impacted by net foreign currency fluctuations of approximately $0.4 million or 0.5%.

    Consolidated gross profit margin was 39.4% compared to 41.6% for the same period last year. The 2.2-percentage-point decrease is primarily due to a less favorable product and channel mix and a higher mix of shipments made on a direct import basis. These factors were partially offset by margin lift from growth in our leadership brands. The higher mix of direct import sales had an unfavorable impact of approximately 1 percentage point of gross profit margin with a corresponding favorable impact to SG&A.

    SG&A was 26.3% of net sales compared to 30.1% for the same period last year. The 3.8-percentage-point decrease is primarily due to the favorable comparative impact of the $3.6 million charge related to the bankruptcy of Toys'R'Us in the same period last year, improved distribution and logistics efficiency, the favorable impact of a higher mix of direct import shipments, lower amortization expense, and better operating leverage. These factors were partially offset by higher share-based compensation expense related to long-term incentive plans.

    As we've discussed in the past, the majority of our share-based compensation is performance-based, with three-year performance periods. As the end of each performance period nears and we are able to make more accurate estimates, we make adjustments for estimated performance against targets for the three-year period. This was the primary driver of higher share-based compensation expense in the quarter.

    GAAP operating income was $50.7 million, or 12.9% of net sales, which includes $0.9 million in restructuring charges. This compares to operating income of $39.7 million, or 11.5% of net sales, in the same period last year, which included a $3.6 million charge related to the Toys'R'Us bankruptcy. The combined effect of these items favorably impacted the year-over-year comparison of GAAP operating margins by 0.8 percentage points.

    Adjusted operating income was $59.6 million, or 15.1% of net sales, compared to $51.1 million, or 14.8% of net sales. The 0.3-percentage-point increase in adjusted operating margin primarily reflects improved distribution and logistics efficiency, greater operating leverage, and margin lift from leadership brand growth. These factors were partially offset by less favorable channel and product mix. Marketing spending was largely in line with expectations for the quarter.

    Turning now to adjusted operating margin by segment, Housewares' adjusted operating margin remained strong at 22.4% for both periods. Segment profitability reflected a higher mix of Hydro Flask sales at a higher operating margin, improved distribution and logistics efficiency, and better operating leverage. These factors were offset by less favorable channel mix and a higher personnel cost.

    Health and Home adjusted operating margin was 10.5% compared to 9.6%. The 0.9-percentage-point increase primarily reflects better operating leverage and improved distribution and logistics efficiency. These factors were partially offset by a less favorable product mix. Beauty adjusted operating margin was 12.8% compared to 13.6%. The 0.8-percentage-point decrease primarily reflects less favorable product mix and decreased operating leverage. These factors were partially offset by lower media advertising expense and cost savings from Project Refuel.

    Our effective tax rate was 8.3%, which includes tax benefits totaling $0.2 million from share-based compensation settlements. This compares to an effective tax rate of 4.1% in the same period last year, which included a $2.2 million benefit related to the favorable resolution of an uncertain tax position.

    Income from continuing operations was $44 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, which includes after-tax restructuring charges of $0.8 million, or $0.03 per diluted share. Income from continuing operations in the prior year was $34.6 million, or $1.26 per diluted share, and included an after-tax charge of $3.4 million, or $0.12 per share, related to the Toys'R'Us bankruptcy.

    Non-GAAP adjusted income from continuing operations was $52.5 million, or $1.98 per diluted share, compared to $45.2 million, or $1.65 per share. The 20% increase in adjusted diluted EPS primarily reflects the impact of higher adjusted operating income in our Housewares and Health and Home segments, lower interest expense, and lower shares outstanding year over year.

    Now moving on to our financial position, accounts receivable turnover increased to 65.4 days compared to 61.8 days in the same period last year, primarily reflecting strong sales growth in the second half of the quarter and a higher percentage of shipments made on a direct import basis. Inventory was $284.8 million, representing a 10.6% decrease year over year. Inventory turnover improved to 3.3x compared to 2.8x in the prior-year period. The increase in inventory turnover is due primarily to continued focus on our supply chain improvements and a higher mix of direct import sales. Total short- and long-term debt decreased $143.2 million to $301.1 million compared to $444.3 million at the end of the second quarter of last year. We ended the second quarter with a leverage ratio of 1.2x compared to 1.9x, as previously reported at the end of the second quarter last year.

    In summary, strong second-quarter results have contributed to a very good first half of the fiscal year that includes core sales growth of 11.1%, adjusted operating margin improvements of 1.4 percentage points, and an increase in adjusted EPS of 25.8%. Given our results in the second quarter, we're increasing our full-year outlook. For fiscal 2019, we now expect consolidated net sales revenue in the range of $1.535 billion to $1.56 billion, which implies consolidated sales growth of 3.8% to 5.5%, including the impact from the revenue recognition standard in both periods.

    Our net sales outlook continues to assume the severity of the cough/cold/flu season will be in line with historical averages, which unfavorably impacts the full-year comparison to fiscal 2018 by 1.1%. Our net sales outlook also assumes that September 2018 foreign currency exchange rates will remain constant for the remainder of the year. By segment, we now expect Housewares net sales growth of 9-11%, Health and Home net sales growth of 5-7% including an unfavorable impact of approximately 2.3% from the average cough/cold/flu assumption, and Beauty net sales decline in the low to mid-single digits, which remain the same as previously provided.

    The company is also increasing its EPS outlook. We now expect consolidated GAAP diluted EPS from continuing operations of $6.31 to $6.46 and adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations in the range of $7.65 to $7.90 based on estimated weighted average diluted shares outstanding of 26.6 million. Our EPS outlook includes an increase to the expected range of growth investments for fiscal 2019. We now expect an increase of 18-22% year over year compared to the previous expectation of 14-18% as we spend in the strength of fiscal 2019, support new product launches, and accelerate the development of digital assets to drive future growth.

    Our outlook also includes the impact of expected commodity and freight inflation on our cost of goods sold as well as the expected impact of tariff changes in their current form. Based on the effective dates of implementation and the time it will take for them to be fully reflected in average cost of our inventory, the estimated unmitigated tariff impact on fiscal 2019 is expected to be approximately $5 million to $5.5 million.

    This estimate assumes no mitigating pricing or sourcing actions on our part, and is likely subject to change as events continue to develop. Of course, we're exploring all options available to us to reduce the impact of the tariff changes and commodity and freight pressures. While we anticipate achieving our fiscal 2019 revised full-year outlook, the current trade environment is certainly a concern and could provide a meaningful headwind next fiscal year if we ultimately realize the full-year impact of tariff changes in their current form.

    While we do not give quarterly guidance, we believe it would be helpful to make some comments on EPS cadence for the remainder of fiscal 2019. Due to the concentration of marketing spending in the third quarter and the increase we are now planning along with tariff impacts we will begin to realize in the second half of the year, adjusted diluted EPS for the third quarter could be flat to down 8% compared to the same period last year.

    Please note that the timing and execution of our marketing programs can vary from our forecast, which could significantly impact our adjusted diluted EPS results from quarter to quarter and compared to our expectations. Also, please remember that our fiscal 2019 outlook continues to assume an average cold/flu season compared to a strong season last year, which is a contributor to the year-over-year EPS compression in the third quarter along with the marketing and tariff impacts I just referenced.

    Looking at our expectations for tax, we now expect to report a GAAP effective tax rate range of 8.5-10.5% and an adjusted effective tax rate range of 8-10% for the full fiscal year 2019. Please refer to the schedule entitled "Effective Tax Rate and Adjusted Effective Tax Rate" in the tables to the press release.

    Our outlook for diluted EPS from continuing operations assumes that September 2018 foreign currency exchange rates will remain constant for the remainder of the fiscal year. Other EPS assumptions are consistent with our previous guidance and are detailed in the earnings release. The likelihood and potential impact of any fiscal 2019 acquisitions or additional divestitures, future asset impairment charges, future foreign currency fluctuations, or further share repurchases are unknown and cannot be reasonably estimated, therefore, they are not included in the company's sales and earnings outlook. Now, I'd like to turn it back to the operator for questions.

    Questions and Answers:

    Operator

    Thank you. If you would like to ask a question, please press *1 on your telephone keypad. If you're using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach the equipment. Once again, that is *1 for questions. We'll go first to Bob Labick at CJS Securities.

    Robert Labick -- CJS Securities -- President

    Good morning and congratulations on another outstanding quarter.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Hey. Good morning, Bob. Thank you very much.

    Robert Labick -- CJS Securities -- President

    Sure. So, I want to start with growth. It's been phenomenal for quite some time, particularly in the core leadership brands. Can you talk a little bit about potential long-term growth rates? I know we have some headwinds near-term, but the first half has already been so strong, and I think you've exceeded most of the plans you've talked about, so what's the long-term opportunity for growth and how's the pipeline for new products for your leadership brands?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Hi, thanks again on the comments and also on the growth. We're very proud of the rates that we're achieving and the investments are paying off. We're constantly honing them. We have great brands, and consumers are responding, so we like that. Innovation is one of the biggest drivers of the online, which we've talked about a lot, and while brick-and-mortar always faces challenges, frankly, the environment is a bit better and retailers are taking on a bit more inventory to match the POS that they're seeing on our products regardless of what they're seeing more broadly in the category. That's helping us pick up share as well, so that's making a difference.

    So, in terms of the growth prospects, we're guardedly optimistic, and you saw us take our revenue guidance up to reflect that. Our long-term guidance is still the same. It's 2-3%, and it's really going to stay that way until it's clear that there's enough wage inflation in the marketplace for consumers to have more buying power. So, the economy is clicking along a little faster than that in the United States. Outside the United States, there's a different story -- some faster, but most slower -- and the point is that they balance to probably about that rate.

    We have been beating that rate, so you could say there's a little bit of conservatism in there, and yet, there's challenges as well, and even in fiscal '20, we'll have to anniversary all the stronger growth that we're putting on the scoreboard today. So, that's a high-class problem to have, we're proud to have it, and in that sense, we'll have to keep investing to make sure that that happens. Our pipeline looks great, not just good, and our increased distribution, new products that are coming out now -- all these things that are helping us. So, I think that's kind of the main story on growth.

    On leadership brands, it is faster and it's helping us shift the portfolio. Brian mentioned the number 81% in his comments, which is the percentage of our total revenues now represented by those leadership brands, and it's helping us make some tough choices on the non-leadership brands as we put a bit less emphasis in some places and also shift tactics to a more profitable marketing mix in some of those, such as less consumer advertising on personal care and more trade advertising in that area -- trade support. These are examples. Brian, I don't know if you have any further comments on the growth driver subject.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Yeah, just that we're not ready to increase our long-term growth guidance, but I would tell you we spend a lot of time and focus on how to get our long-term growth rate to the next level. Just getting Beauty to flat and some slight growth would do that, as well as continuing to improve the growth in Health and Home and Housewares. And, all the things Julien said, I would agree with. The marketing spend that you saw us increase for the back half of the year will be a driver of that. Some of that will have a short-term benefit as we invest in things like Amazon marketing and paid search on websites, and then, some of that is for longer-term growth that we expect to benefit from in the following years or next year. So, I would tell you it's a huge focus of ours; we're not to a position where we're ready to change the guidance, but we're working on it every day.

    Robert Labick -- CJS Securities -- President

    Okay, great. And, thanks for that. My next question was going to be to talk a little bit about the increased spending into the strength, which you just highlighted, so I appreciate that. Last one for me, then: Could you talk about some of the ways that you may be able to mitigate the tariffs and the commodity price increases that everyone's seeing, or your expectations, and when will you know how much you can offset and how much it will impact margins and things like that?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    The first thing I'll bring up that we can do is we can take a look at sourcing changes. I think that would be our preference in a lot of cases versus doing price increases. We'll do the price increases where we absolutely need to, but sourcing changes first -- and, sourcing changes can be easier, more short-term changes, and then there are also ones that are harder to do and more structural and more long-term in nature that take a longer period of time to get in place. We've actually already -- on the affected items -- gone through both types of sourcing changes, evaluated those, and put into place what we think makes sense.

    And then, the next thing we would look at, obviously, is price increases to the consumer, and we have already looked at that and planned price increases where they make sense in the categories where we think we have the right to do it and it wouldn't hurt us in the short term or the long term to do that. Those are the main factors. There are things we can pursue and we have pursued, such as exclusions from the lists, and we'll continue to do that, but I don't feel that there's a high likelihood of getting a lot of exclusions there because everyone is likely trying to do that, and if they were to allow that, then nothing would remain on the list.

    So, those are the main things that we would do. I would tell you that going into next year for sure, we would obviously have a good sense of it. We may have a good sense of it at the end of Q3, but I don't know that for sure. So, hopefully, we'd be able to give you a better feel in Q3, and at the very least, we'd be able to tell you for sure going into next year.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    We're working on the pricing side. We're the market leader in most of our categories -- the first-mover kind of thing -- and, that said, consumer price points do matter. That wage inflation comment I mentioned before does affect what people will stretch for regardless of what the marketplace does, so, in the end, supply and demand do have to meet each other, and so, it's one thing to pass it on or to find efficiencies to offset, change sourcing, and the things that Brian is describing, but the consumers themselves have to agree that those new shelf price points -- regardless of whether they're online or in-store -- are the price they want to pay. Otherwise, they will defer purchase or look for cheaper alternatives. It's the classic supply and demand equation.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Bob, I just want to add that it's a slight help at this point, but as this has developed, the currency situation has improved for us and is giving us a slight offsetting benefit in currency, and we'll see how commodities go. They've been bouncing around a little bit. We're still expecting inflation, but that could moderate, too, and help us out quite a bit. So, we'll look for all these things to help offset the tariff impact.

    Robert Labick -- CJS Securities -- President

    Got it. Great. Okay, thank you so much. I'll jump back in queue. Thanks, and congratulations.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Thanks, Bob.

    Operator

    We'll go next to Frank Camma at Sidoti.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Hey, good morning, guys.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Good morning. How you doing?

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Good, good. Just to stay on the tariff question, since you left off there, I don't want to minimize the $5 million to $5.5 million, and I know that's not an annual number, but given that you import everything, it doesn't seem that devastating, so could you just go into what categories are most affected and, quite frankly, why it isn't even higher than that?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Sure. So, I would say that the scope of what it impacts is not that significant, but some of the categories that it impacts are large. So, it impacts air purification for us, it impacts water filtration, it impacts certain items in the Housewares space, so there are some broad categories of kitchen gadgets or kitchen items that it impacts. Those are the major items that it impacts for us, which, again, are limited in scope to our total product categories, but in some cases, they're large categories. Also, on a limited basis, it impacts thermometers. So, those are the main things that it impacts -- not all thermometers, but just a portion.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Okay. Obviously, you called out -- and, you said on an unmitigated basis, but I'm just trying to estimate on an annual basis -- would we just basically multiply that by two since these tariffs are halfway through the year?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    No.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    No? We can't do that?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Yeah, because they were implemented in different phases throughout the year, and it takes a period of time -- probably four to six months -- for them to roll through our inventory and our cost of goods sold. So, there's a delayed impact. I would call the $5 million to $5.5 million about between 20-30% of the estimated annual impact.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Okay. So, a related question to that is you're doing more of these direct imports. Maybe I have this wrong, but does that mean that the retailer or your partner would actually be responsible for the tariffs, technically, or do I have that incorrect? In other words, if they pick up the shipment in China, would they be the ones...? Go ahead.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Yeah, you have it correct. They would be responsible for the freight, duties, warehousing and logistics, and all of that. They would pick it up directly from the manufacturer, wherever that is in China or Mexico, and then they're responsible for it from there.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    That would benefit you, then, to some extent.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    To some extent, but remember, the price -- I think Brian mentioned this in his opening comments -- the price is not the same. You might look at our gross margin compression that you saw in this quarter. Direct import had an impact for the reasons that Brian mentioned. On the one hand, it's not because we skirted the tariffs. There's an adjustment to the price for things like freight and duty.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Okay, that's great. And then, just to flip back to your sales guidance, the one thing that sticks out -- and, you did explain that in Housewares, you obviously had a good club channel sales year, so I understand that, but when you take it all into account, if you look at your second half -- what you're guiding to, at least, for the full year -- the implication is that Housewares in particular slows down pretty meaningfully. That's the only one I don't understand. Is it because you're comping against that? Is that why you're being a little conservative there on Housewares in particular?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Yes, it's true that the sales will slow down on a year-over-year growth basis in the back half as far as we can see. There are a couple of pretty big variables, cold and flu season being the biggest one, and last year was substantial. I know that's not in Housewares...

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Yeah, I'm specifically looking at Housewares. I totally understand the Healthcare one. I was looking specifically at Housewares because guiding to 11% for the year, I have to obviously meaningfully slow down your growth in the second half given that you just posted strong growth.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Understood, and on Housewares specifically, just as a reminder, the comparison for Q4 is a steep one -- I'm talking just in Housewares -- and even brand by brand, you're thinking of OXO, but Hydro Flask had a blowout in the fourth quarter last year, and that was consumption-driven. You can see that by the sales that we're posting now. They show big growth, so it's not like there was some kind of inventory surge.

    And so, in the case of -- the compare is a strong one, and therefore difficult to climb over. And, in terms of the club stuff, that's really not expected as much in the second half because that was really more of a Q1 event, which is where we called it out specifically. We didn't mention it here, but we were careful to make sure people understood that the effect was moderate in Q2, so, not the same kind of effect, and I think Brian broke out the specific 13.9% year-over-year Q2 of fiscal '19 versus Q2 of fiscal '18 without the club, just to make sure people understood the degree to which the statement of moderation is accurate.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Okay.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    And, again, it's a tough compare.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    My last is just a clarification as far as how you're defining online channels. So, that obviously would be anything sold through an e-commerce partner. Do you also pick up your traditional brick-and-mortar guys that have an e-commerce outlet plus your hydroflask.com? So, that's all in there?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Yeah, where we know... You have the definition correct. There is a subtlety, and the subtlety is brick-and-mortar versus the online outlet of brick-and-mortar -- we don't always know exactly which unit goes to which. We generally do because of the way we sell, so it is included, and we include our own websites like hydroflask.com, which is a significant part of our direct sales. Amazon is obviously a big player in the e-retail subject, and is the No. 1 in that case.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Let me just add to that, Frank. We set up separate accounts for the dotcom part of brick-and-mortar retailers, so we do have a methodology to track it, we just don't always know -- they could be doing something differently with the shipments and moving it to dotcom or something like that. We may not always know that, but we do set up different accounts when the shipment we're making is specifically for dotcom.

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Okay, that makes sense. Thanks, guys.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Thanks, Frank.

    Operator

    We'll move to our next question from Chris Carey at Bank of America.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Hi, Chris.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Hi. How are you?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Good. How are you doing?

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Very well, thank you. So, keeping on the tariffs, not to belabor the point, but how quickly can you adjust your sourcing base? I mean that both from the ability to move products, but also, what does that do to the relationships that you've developed in China, for example? And then, I guess I ask that -- doing back-of-the-envelope math based on the comments so far, it seems like unmitigated tariffs could be $0.45 to $0.75 of incremental headwind next year, so I wonder if you could comment on whether that is roughly ballpark if you take into account what you said about the impact for fiscal '19 being about 20-30% of an annualized rate.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Let me take the first part and I'll pass to Brian for the second part. So, on the sourcing, it's not easy to change sourcing and still have the same quality and capacity. There's a level of knowhow, relationships, to your point, capital investment in automation, quality assurance systems, subcomponent supplier input -- there are all kinds of things that go into the sourcing supply chain that you don't just pick up and move from one day to the next. Infrastructure around extremely well-established products like humidifiers are hard to build, so it's important to respect those supply chains. So, we don't move them lightly and we're very careful.

    It's also hard to take a high runner in terms of volume and move it away from a supplier to receive a lower tariff in another market, like Mexico, for example, because it affects the cost of goods of the remaining items as their fixed cost coverage and all the obvious manufacturing variables are taken into account. So, it's not the kind of thing that goes quickly. It takes a long time to do it well. Anyone can start a production in another location, but it takes time to amp it up and to ramp correctly.

    In terms of where things would go, we're looking at a lot of different choices. Eastern Europe and Mexico are obvious ones, and other suppliers even within China, which is exposed to the same tariffs, but opens up some doors. Even in Mexico, for example, it wasn't until just 10 days ago or so that NAFTA went from a cloud over it to what appears to be certainty, and that said, it's still unsigned and still unratified, and those are two processes that take significant amounts of time. There's a new president coming in in Mexico and there will be an election in this country regarding the Congress, which has the ratification, so there's lots of stuff still to go [audio cuts out] somewhere else, and as I say, that's not accurate.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    You're saying that some of them can be implemented quicker, and we've already done one related to water filtration, so I agree with Julien's comments broadly, but there are instances where we can implement quick sourcing changes, and in fact, we've already made one, so there's a blend there. And then, let me just clarify the conclusion you had on the unmitigated impact. The amount for next year unmitigated could actually be closer to $0.75 to $0.95, so that's what you could use as a starting point, but that is not the amount that we expect to impact us because we believe we're going to offset a large portion of it.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Right, but the incremental impact relative to fiscal '19 would be less than that, right? Because you've already incurred some.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    That includes the incremental impact.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Okay, got it. By the way, thank you for the response on the change in sourcing. But, to get to that point, you have this incredibly underleveraged balance sheet, and I know you say it's not burning a hole in your pocket and you'll be very careful about doing M&A, which is the right thing to do, of course, but this is certainly a huge amount of capacity to blunt some of these headwinds if you did want to look to M&A or buy back your stock, which is still undervalued on some metrics. So, how do you think about that? And then, I have one follow-up question, if I could.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Sure. So, we agree on the subject of using the balance sheet. It's strategic for us; we consider ourselves good allocators of capital. We've put the shareholders' capital to work productively and gotten a meaningful premium to our weighted average cost of capitals, and they can assess the risk adjusted, but we're proud of our ROIC, so the balance sheet is a strong lever for us, and it is underleveraged, so, putting it to those two uses in that exact order -- meaning M&A and buyback -- is our priority.

    So, the answer is yes, and then, in terms of the impact on the sourcing changes, it depends a lot on what we buy. We wouldn't buy to diversify sourcing footprint, but we definitely have its impact in mind given the tariff situation. Unfortunately, with the government in a bit of a standoff, there's no clear end in sight, nor is there a sense of what the catalysts would be for that. So, it's just an old-fashioned standoff until that changes, and it's factored into the M&A decision-making accordingly.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Okay, got it. And then, if I could just squeeze in one last one, on a bigger-picture question, which I think was asked earlier -- your growth rates are accelerating this year on tougher comps and actually are in contrast to so much of what we're seeing across the broader space. What do you think is going on here? Are you executing better at retail than you were last year and prior years? Are you growing faster internationally? Is this coming from online -- although, this quarter, you definitely had strong brick-and-mortar growth, too? Any thoughts on why we're seeing such a significant uptick here?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    There are a lot of drivers. You listed good ones, and they're correct. Online is the fastest-growing part, and even with the pretty good clip that we've been growing at in recent years online, we're still putting meaningful double-digit growth even as the law of larger numbers starts to affect the calculation. It was 16% this quarter alone, and that helps us. In the case of execution at brick-and-mortar, we're very proud of the support we're able to earn with our retail partners. They're supporting us, we're supporting them, so investments are being made in both channels.

    We're amping up our marketing spend considerably -- that's all the incremental we've talked about a lot of times -- and you've heard us increase that even now for the back half of this fiscal year on top of the increase that we already had in our original guidance. And so, that spending -- we're very attuned to what works and what doesn't, and we dial it up and dial it down as the season changes. That can happen quickly. We can also dial it up as tactics prove themselves out to be better ROIs for some, worse ROIs for others. The products themselves -- we're very proud of the products and our brands.

    We're introducing a lot of new innovation. Innovation is one of our core strategies. Helen of Troy is a machine on the subject. We're deeply consumer-centric. We go into their households, we listen to them, we research, and we bring out products that we test and test, and while not all of them succeed, we're very careful to bring winners into the marketplace. So, those are the primary factors. International is the other one, and that's making a big difference for us. International is growing faster than the Helen of Troy average in general.

    Every quarter is a little bit different. We mentioned Asia. Online in Asia is particularly strong for us in the last year or so, so that helps a lot. And, in terms of whitespace distribution, things like Hydro Flask -- building out the East is core for us in the United States, and over the last 18 months or so, we have made significant strides internationally with Hydro Flask in some countries specifically, and now we're feeding that, and in other countries, we're just breaking new ground. So, there are ways to put new whitespace on the board for growth categories like that.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Thanks so much for all that.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Yeah, you bet.

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Chris, can I just clarify one thing? The unmitigated tariff impact that we gave you includes the third list that's been announced that is not in place yet, but could go in place at the beginning of the calendar year if things don't change. So, Trump referred to a third list that would go from 10% tariff to 25% tariff effective January 1st. We've assumed that in our unmitigated impact that we've given you, but that may or may not go into place. So, that's actually a meaningful number. On an annualized, unmitigated basis, that's $10 million. So, just know that that's included in the unmitigated amount to give you the worst-case scenario. That has not been put into place yet and may not be put into place.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Got it. And, you are reflecting your inventory turns in that estimate, right?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Correct.

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Okay. Thanks so much.

    Operator

    And, we'll move next to Linda Bolton Weiser at D.A. Davidson.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Hi, Linda.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Hi. So, I'm just thinking about what you said about the third fiscal quarter and EPS being flat to down 8%, and you really have the hardest sales comparison in the fourth fiscal quarter, not so much in the third quarter, so I'm thinking your sales growth can still be good. Is it still the growth margin -- you're expecting the channel mix to impact that, or is it really just on the SG&A line and would be investment? Can you just give why you're expecting a more muted expectation for the third quarter?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    It's really all about the spending. There will be a high concentration of spending compared to the same period last year that will really drive the compression of the EPS, and last year, there was a lot of uncertainty related to the strength of the cold/flu season, so we held back and deferred some of the marketing spend that we might have otherwise done and chose not to execute some of those until the very end of the third quarter, which caused the amount of spending in the same period last year to be much less, and then, now, we're comparing that to growth that we had already planned in the spending, plus we're now deciding that we're going to spend additional amounts. So, that dynamic is really what's causing the compression.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Okay. And, just -- are you able to say -- of the guidance for an 18-22% increase in investment spending, what was the year-over-year increase in the first half of the fiscal year that we've already had?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    It was slightly below, and that is another reason for the compression in the third quarter. We had a little bit of carryover from the first half of the year that we didn't spend according to the plan that will be spent in the second half of the year.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Okay. And then, I know I've asked you this before and you've explained, but maybe you could just remind me -- when you refer to the unfavorable channel mix, is some of that the club channel? Is that a little bit lower growth margin? What are the other channels that are lower growth margin for you?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Well, when we talk about channel mix, a lot of times, it reflects club. It could reflect discount channel -- ROTS, Marmax, and those types of things. So, when we say "channel mix," those are usually the things that would drive it down lower.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Club was the big numerical item, and outside of the channels, the direct imports that we talked about -- that Brian made some comments on in his prepared remarks -- are at a lower mix, but nonetheless relatively neutral on the subject of profit, and from an inventory standpoint, it's a slight preference on our side because the product doesn't come through our warehouse system.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Okay. And then, I think we had asked earlier in the year if, with the hard comparison in the fourth fiscal quarter, you expected sales to be up or down in the fourth quarter, and I think you had actually said up. Are you still thinking that given what you know about your innovation stream and what you're seeing at POS? Do you still think sales can be up in the fourth quarter?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    I would say the expectation would be flattish to the prior year.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    It's going to depend a lot on the strength of the cold and flu season. So, with a normal seasonal assumption, I think flat is the right move. With a below-average season, it could tick down a little, and with an above-average, it could tick up a little. Remember also that to some extent, the shipments for a normal season have occurred, at least from a load-in basis, because of the normal purchases ahead to set those shelves as kids go back to school and all that. That happened during the second quarter, and a lot of that was direct import.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Thanks. And then, finally, to your comments in terms of the direct import being a bigger part of the mix, does that actually reflect some optimism on the part of retailers regarding, say, the upcoming holiday season? My understanding is if they're risk-averse, they actually don't do the direct import as much. Is that correct, and can you give any color on that?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Yeah. I'm really glad you asked because I'd like to give a little color broadly on this and specifically to your question. So, broadly, it's correct that there's a risk shift. So, when a retailer purchases something direct import, they own it earlier, and it goes through their system and stays there until it sells through. We don't do returns or that kind of things on those products, so it does reflect optimism in a broad scale. More specifically, you have to think of the year-over-year situation.

    So, in the year-ago period, retailers were coming off of a very weak cold and flu season, and that prior year -- I'm talking two years ago -- the Christmas season wasn't that great either, nor was the retail environment especially healthy, so you take all -- and, unemployment wasn't where it is today. The labor participation rate -- there were plenty of factors that made that time a weak one.

    One of the factors that affected us the most was the weak cold and flu season that preceded the one from last year, so a lot of the retailers were in a situation where they did not have the same confidence for normalcy that we had assumed, and their thought last year was, "We will take less in direct import than a typical year, Helen of Troy will put it in your warehouse, and if the demand comes, we'll buy it from you and pay the higher price for the privilege of shifting the risk from us to you." And so, what happened was exactly that.

    Nonetheless, what happened last year -- you know the season was a very strong one, so they ended up leaving volume on the table because we only had so much product in the warehouse. We sold everything we had. In fact, I wish we'd had more; so did they. So, this season, we were out there talking to those same retailers and saying, "Don't you want to assume a normal year and behave accordingly?" And, as they saw empty shelves from the epic strength of last year, they needed the product, so they bought it direct import and paid a little bit more.

    So, there are several specific factors happening. Heater sales, which I think I mentioned in my prepared remarks, ahead of the upcoming season now -- the products that we sold in largely shipped through direct import, and we earned incremental distribution because we won some good new business, and that product was also in the direct imports in Q2. So, it just happened to be a heavy one and it happened to be a higher compare because of that year-over-year effect that I mentioned.

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Okay, thank you very much.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    You bet. We like direct import, to be clear. It just does affect the gross margin and profit level relatively neutral, but in the sense of risk and inventory management, it's our preference.

    Operator

    We'll go next to Steve Marotta at C.L. King and Associates.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Hey, Steve.

    Steven Marotta -- C.L. King and Associates -- Senior Vice President

    Good morning, Julien. Thank you for taking my call. Brian, I just wanted to ask the tariff question in a bit of a different way. What is your specific COGS exposure to China imports to the U.S. as a percent of whole COGS?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    It's somewhere in the low 70% range.

    Steven Marotta -- C.L. King and Associates -- Senior Vice President

    That's exposed to the tariffs?

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Oh, no. Sorry, I didn't understand the question. I thought you were asking our broad exposure to China. Well, you can... I don't have a percentage. You can take the impact that we're giving you unmitigated and divide it into our cost of goods sold to understand. It's really only 2.7% of an impact. I know that doesn't maybe answer the question that you're asking for, which is what's the base of the products. I don't have a percentage off the top of my head, but we can follow up with that.

    Steven Marotta -- C.L. King and Associates -- Senior Vice President

    No trouble whatsoever. And, most of my questions were asked and answered, but Julien, maybe you could address where you are in the transformational strategy and what initiatives are in the near to intermediate term and their potential impact on the P&L?

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    We're still in the middle innings of the transformation strategy. You might think, "Hey, you're well into your fifth year." That said, some of the opportunities are just now available to us. So, for example, in supply chain, you hear a lot of stuff that's related to tariffs, but there are much broader things going on in supply chain -- for example, our ability to improve quality, our ability to shorten lead times, ability to work with what we call built-in quality with our supplier, so we build it into the design and they build it into their production techniques rather than final inspection, and we've done more and more of that, but just in recent quarters.

    There are so many other aspects of supply chain -- demand planning, supplier orders, the order frequency -- it's a long, long list of initiatives that are relatively new or just now getting enough traction. In the warehouse and distribution logistics area, we've been at it for years, and there, we're well into the middle innings because we've done so much, and yet, the list of new opportunities is substantial.

    I would also say that in the human resources area, the amount of energy, the cultural work, and the ability to hire, attract, retain, and importantly, to train our people better and better is making a very big difference, and that's probably just getting its best traction now, and I expect it to actually accelerate. You saw us with the transformation shares, which is what we call them internally, that I mentioned in the call. I know people didn't make remarks about them externally in these questions, but you're looking at the quarterly result, and I can tell you that internally, of all of the major HR initiatives that we've done in the last couple of years, I haven't seen a reaction internally [audio cuts out] as big to any of them as the transformation shares, and these are people who already had an ownership mentality and ownership behavior, and now, to say it was doubled, I'd say that would probably be a significant qualitative understatement.

    So, I'd say these were middle-innings kind of work. And, if you look at the leadership brands, we've been at that for two or three years now, and the results speak for themselves. They're strong, and that said, I think the best is yet to come on the way we innovate, the way we work across the business units on the subject of innovation, and even on the digital side, while we're getting very good at it, I would argue that we probably could be twice as good at it compared to what we do now and improve.

    So, lots still coming -- this idea of building -- I'm thinking higher-hanging fruit. People might think we've already picked the lower-hanging fruit. I guess if I had to summarize it, I'd say we're building taller ladders inside Helen of Troy every day, training people so that they can have longer arms, and hiring people with longer arms. So, taller ladders and longer arms -- those fruits don't look so high up at all. They're well within our reach. So, these are all middle-innings comments. Hopefully, the best is yet to come. It's our strong belief. Hopefully, we'll end up a little bit like the Red Sox against the Yankees last night. That was like a football score.

    Steven Marotta -- C.L. King and Associates -- Senior Vice President

    All right, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    Operator

    And, that does conclude today's question and answer session. At this time, I'll turn the conference back over to Mr. Mininberg for any closing remarks.

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    You bet. Thank you, operator, and thank you to everyone for being with us on the call today. We appreciate your support, we look forward to speaking with many of you, and we'll be doing so in the coming weeks. So, thanks a lot and have a great day.

    Operator

    And, that does conclude today's conference. Again, thank you for your participation.

    Duration: 66 minutes

    Call participants:

    Jack Jancin -- Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development

    Julien R. Mininberg -- Chief Executive Officer and Director

    Brian Grass -- Chief Financial Officer

    Robert Labick -- CJS Securities -- President

    Frank Camma -- Sidoti and Company -- Analyst

    Christopher Carey -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Vice President

    Linda Bolton Weiser -- D.A. Davidson -- Senior Vice President

    Steven Marotta -- C.L. King and Associates -- Senior Vice President

    More HELE analysis

    This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

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    France’s decade-old effort to slash pesticide use failed. Will a new attempt succeed? | killexams.com real questions and Pass4sure dumps

    By Erik StokstadOct. 11, 2018 , 2:00 PM

    Mikael Fremont was up to his shoulders in rapeseed, looking pleased. The bright yellow flowers had faded, giving way to long slender pods that would yield valuable canola oil, as well as protein meal for livestock. While his spaniel darted about the farm here in May, the burly 41-year-old grower wanted to point out something nearly hidden: a mat of tattered, dead leaves covering the soil.

    Months earlier, Fremont had planted this vetch and clover along with the rapeseed. The two legumes had grown rapidly, preventing weeds from crowding out the emerging rapeseed and guarding it from hungry beetles and weevils. As a result, Fremont had cut by half the herbicide and insecticide he sprayed. The technique of mixing plant species in a single field had worked "perfectly," he said.

    This innovative approach is just one of many practices, now spreading across France, that could help farmers achieve an elusive national goal. In 2008, the French government announced a dramatic shift in agricultural policy, calling for pesticide use to be slashed in half. And it wanted to hit that target in just a decade. No other country with as large and diverse an agricultural system had tried anything so ambitious. The goal "was very revolutionary," says Henriette Christensen of the Pesticide Action Network in Brussels, especially because France is the second largest consumer of pesticides in Europe.

    Since then, the French government has spent nearly half a billion euros on implementing the plan, called Ecophyto. It created a network of thousands of farms that test methods of reducing chemical use, improved national surveillance of pests and plant diseases, and funded research on technologies and techniques that reduce pesticide use. It has imposed taxes on farm chemicals in a bid to decrease sales, and even banned numerous pesticides, infuriating many farmers.

    The effort has helped quench demand on some farms. Overall, however, Ecophyto has failed miserably. Instead of declining, national pesticide use has increased by 12%, largely mirroring a rise in farm production. "We lost 10 years since 2008," says François Veillerette of Générations Futures, an environmental advocacy organization in Paris. "We can't afford to waste 10 more."

    The French government agrees. Officials are now finalizing a revised plan dubbed Ecophyto 2+. It will boost research, add demonstration farms, increase taxes on pesticides, and prohibit more compounds. President Emmanuel Macron has even urged a ban of glyphosate, the world's best-selling weed killer and an important tool for many farmers.

    Details of the revised plan, including funding levels, are still being decided. But some observers are already skeptical. Farmers fear burdensome rules and increased costs that will put them at a competitive disadvantage. Environmental organizations worry France will again fall short. "There are good ideas," says Carmen Etcheverry, formerly of France Nature Environnement in Paris. "But we don't know how they will be implemented."

    There is also optimism. Despite Ecophyto's failure, it showed farmers have powerful options, such as mixing crops, planting new varieties, and tapping data analysis systems that help identify the best times to spray. With the right incentives and support, those tools might make a bigger difference this time around. And the fact that France isn't backing away from its ambitious goal inspires many observers. "You feel," says Robert Finger, an agricultural economist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, "that something vivid is going on."

    When you have more diversity, you have more resilience.

    Vincent Béguier, Jouffray Drillaud seed company

    After World War II, synthetic herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides greatly boosted French farmers' harvests and profits. But the chemicals contaminated groundwater, lakes, and streams, and they harmed farm workers and wildlife. Consumers became wary, and by the 1970s public opposition to pesticides was growing.

    During the 2000s, pesticide sales fell as farmers applied them with increasing efficiency and sometimes switched to more effective compounds that required smaller doses. But the ambition to do much better crystalized in 2007, when then–French President Nicolas Sarkozy convened a conference to set a 5-year environmental agenda. Ecophyto was the result, negotiated between environmentalists, farm unions, pesticidemakers, and others. It included a major political concession; the 50% cut would be reached "if possible," which meant that much of the plan was voluntary.

    Still, Ecophyto served as a catalyst. Research funds were targeted at evaluating smarter ways to use pesticides. Approaches were tested on some 3000 farms that joined a demonstration network. Officials recruited observers around the country to scout for pests and plant diseases and provide weekly reports; the surveillance helps farmers decide when spraying might be a waste of resources. On average, farms in the demonstration network decreased their pesticide use by 18%, and most did it without sacrificing profits.

    A mix of poisons

    Pesticide sales in Europe's four leading markets differ because of factors including crop type, climate, soil, and regulations (average sales for 2011–15).

    France 72,818 45,560 66,798 60,748 Germany Spain Italy 0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 Tons per year Other Insecticide Fungicide Herbicide

    (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA) EUROSTAT

    But France's overall use of chemical pest control went up. Many factors contributed, analysts say. Taxes on chemicals, for example, weren't high enough to influence buying decisions. It was difficult to persuade some farmers to adopt new practices or technologies that might add to their costs or decrease yields. Ecophyto's funding—about €70 million a year since 2016—was too low and "out of all proportion to the challenge," France's inspector general concluded late last year. And market forces, such as high prices for cereals, may have created an incentive to spray more chemicals to protect unusually lucrative harvests.

    Yet veterans of Ecophyto aren't discouraged. On many farms, analysts say, it appears that existing technologies and practices alone could cut chemical use by at least 20%. "Without underestimating the extent of the challenge, there are reasons to be optimistic," says Alain Tridon, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's plant health services in Paris.

    One source of that optimism can be found on the Ducourt Estate, 450 hectares of rolling vineyards in Ladaux, France, that produces about 3 million bottles of wine each year. In a long garage, massive four-wheeled tractor-sprayers stand 3 meters tall. Each carries a 2200-liter tank for fungicide. Their articulated arms, studded with nozzles, can spray chemicals on four rows of grapes in one pass, killing mildew and other plant pathogens.

    Winemakers are France's biggest users of fungicides, although most are based on sulfur and copper, rather than more toxic synthetic molecules. Still, the sight of Ducourt's yellow beasts trundling through the vineyards can unnerve estate neighbors worried about farm chemicals, says Jeremy Ducourt, who helps manage the family owned business. The machines are actually "a big part of the solution," he says. That's because they helped the estate reduce its use of fungicides by about 30%, thanks to nozzles that put more fungicide on the plant and less on the ground. The most advanced sprayers even collect and reuse any lingering mist.

    Similar high-efficiency sprayers are available for other crops, and just replacing older models with newer machines could make a dent in France's chemical use. But upgrades don't come cheap. The Ducourt Estate's sprayers, which double as harvesters, cost about €320,000. Add the fact that only 3% of the nation's 200,000 sprayers are replaced each year, and it could take decades to fully upgrade the fleet.

    In French fields of rapeseed, seen here in flower, planting companion crops is reducing the need to spray weed killers and insecticides.

    GERARD SIOEN/GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES

    The Ducourt family has also cut fungicide by using decision support software. The program draws on timely weather, surveillance, and other information, such as the size of leaves, to advise when to spray. The tool can reduce fungicide use by about 20% in vineyards, and cereal growers have seen similar results. But such tools haven't yet spread to all farms. Potato farmers, who also spray copious fungicides, now use the tools on about half of their fields, but aim to increase that share to 90% within 5 years.

    When it comes to insects, it's much more difficult for software to predict outbreaks in fields. So, farmers must diligently scout their fields so that they can apply insecticides before pests multiply out of control. Ecophyto 2+ aims to boost a noninsecticide approach called biocontrol. In this long-standing approach, farmers confuse pests with pheromones, for example, or seek to reduce populations by introducing the pest's natural predators. Advocates highlight the strategy's success in France's ample fields of maize. There, a tiny introduced parasitic wasp called Trichogramma brassicae has become a key weapon against the corn rootworm, a major pest. The wasps lay their eggs inside the eggs of the rootworms, shrinking populations just as effectively as insecticides when conditions are optimal.

    The wasps are not a panacea. Although the costs are roughly comparable to insecticides, more labor is required to hang the cardboard cartons holding the wasps on maize plants. And insecticides remain more popular in southern France, where maize farmers face multiple pests the wasps don't attack. (In other nations, maize farmers control pests with less insecticide by planting genetically modified plants, but engineered crops are not allowed in France.) Despite such limitations, the wasps are now used on 23% of maize hectares where rootworms pose a threat.

    France’s pesticide challenge

    The use of pesticides (bottom) is most concentrated in a few growing regions (top) and certain crops (middle).

    0 .5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 million kg 09–11 10–12 11–13 12–14 13–15 14–16 0 25 50 Millions of unit doses 75 100 Vineyards Vineyards Potatoes Sugarbeets 0 Grapevines Apples Cherries Soft wheat Rapeseed Maize Sugarbeet Potato Other Insecticide Fungicide Herbicide 10 20 30 40 Average number of treatments per year 200 0 Km Three-year averages Pesticide intensity by crop Pesticide use grew under Ecophyto

    (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA, TOP TO BOTTOM) NATIONAL BANK OF DISTRIBUTOR SALES (BNV-D), TREATMENT: MINISTRY FOR AN ECOLOGICAL AND INCLUSIVE TRANSITION; BNV-D, TREATMENT: MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD; MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE

    The mixed crop technique used by Fremont in his fields of rapeseed demonstrates another use of biology, in this case to control weeds. It's the kind of ancient technique that used to be commonplace. In August, one or more fast-growing legumes are planted between the rows of rapeseed. There's enough space that the legumes don't steal too much water or light, but they keep down weeds and, as a bonus, release nitrogen, a fertilizer. They also seem to minimize insect attacks, although this benefit hasn't been conclusively demonstrated. By the time frost kills the legumes, the rapeseed has grown thick enough that few weeds can challenge it.

    Such mixed cropping "is becoming very popular," says Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy, an agronomist with the French National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA) in Versailles. Nationwide, 3% to 5% of France's rapeseed hectares are now coplanted with legumes. That share could grow to 30% by 2030 under a pledge made in July by the French federation of oilseed producers.

    One French seed company—Jouffray Drillaud, based in Cisse—sees enough potential in crop mixtures that 2 years ago it stopped selling herbicides, which generated 20% of its revenue. "When you have more diversity, you have more resilience," says Vincent Béguier, R&D director of the firm, which now focuses its weed control on mixed cropping and other nonchemical approaches. "Simplicity is the worst thing for agriculture."

    So far, rapeseed growers appear to be reaping the biggest benefits in weed control from mixed cropping. But scientists are searching for other possibilities. Jeuffroy and other participants in ReMIX, a new €5 million research collaboration among 13 European countries, are studying how to optimize mixtures, measure benefits, and remove obstacles to mixed cropping.

    France's Ministry of Agriculture is moving to encourage greener approaches by requiring pesticide retailers to inform farmers about 36 alternatives to spraying. Instead of only touting insecticides to kill pests, for example, a dealer might recommend a crop mixture, or traps baited with sexual pheromones to confuse male insects, interfering with reproduction. The goal is to reduce the number of pesticide doses they sell by 20% by 2021. Dealers that miss the goal could face penalties.

    To reach Ecophyto's goal of a 50% cut, however, many farmers will need to make more use of another practice—crop rotation. Alternating what's planted in a field, ideally over 5 or 6 years, is among the most effective ways to fight weeds, soil-borne pests and diseases. Switching between peas, wheat, and sugar beets, for example, can prevent pathogens from building up in the soil year after year, while swapping in a pasture grass hinders annual weeds.

    Although simple in concept, it can be hard to increase the diversity of crops in rotation. That's because the whole system is locked: Farmers in many regions have specialized in certain crops—such as wheat or potatoes—and rely on finely tuned methods to produce high yields. There is often no nearby market for additional crops, because storage and processing facilities also tend to specialize in dominant crops—as do researchers, advisers, and policymakers. "Everything has been organized around major crops with high use of inputs," says Antoine Messéan, an agronomist with INRA. "It's difficult to get out of this self-reinforcing mechanism."

    Crop diversification is not a top priority in the new version of the Ecophyto plan, but the Ministry of Agriculture has asked INRA for advice on how to encourage it. In a related effort, France hopes to double the amount of organic farming, which does not allow synthetic pesticides, to 15% of hectares by 2022. In May, the Ministry of Agriculture announced it will spend €1.1 billion to support organic expansion.

    You cannot reduce pesticides if you don’t convince cooperatives that they should change their business model.

    Antoine Messéan, French National Agricultural Research Institute

    The government also faces growing pressure from environmentalists to ban more farm chemicals. The approach is controversial, and farmers complain that greener alternatives aren't always available. After an insecticide called dimethoate was banned in France in 2016, for instance, cherry growers had no effective way to fight an invasive fruit fly, says Eric Thirouin, deputy secretary general at the National Federation of Farmers' Unions in Paris. Meanwhile, the insecticide remains legal in Spain and Italy, he notes, putting French cherry growers at a disadvantage.

    In other cases, banning one chemical can cause the use of others to spike, undermining reduction efforts. French wheat growers, for example, relied on neonicotinoids, which are coated on seeds, to protect the plants against aphids and leaf hoppers. Now that they are banned, some growers might increase applications of other insecticides. And there are other kinds of trade-offs. Some specialists fear banning the weed killer glyphosate could increase erosion or greenhouse gas emissions, if farmers start to till the soil to remove weeds. More research on such trade-offs is "urgently needed," Finger says.

    In the meantime, it will be crucial to enlist France's farmer-owned cooperatives in making Ecophyto 2+ a success, observers say. French farming is dominated by a handful of these enormous agri-businesses. They buy and trade harvests, and most sell their members seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides. "You cannot reduce pesticides if you don't convince cooperatives that they should change their business model," Messéan says. A few have made strides in this direction, such as Terrena, the €5 billion cooperative headquartered near Ancenis that encouraged Fremont to adopt crop mixtures.

    Although the majority of French farmers largely ignored or resisted Ecophyto, they are now showing signs of support. In July, more than 40 farmer organizations issued a "Contract for Solutions" that included pledges to reach specific reduction goals. The pledges represent a turning point, says Thirouin, as farm groups are no longer focused just on fighting pesticide bans. "The idea was to step aside from this defensive position and be proactive," he says. Tridon also sees it as a positive step. "We are really seeing a shift in mindset."

    It's not only farmers who will have to adjust if France is to meet its ambitious goals. Reducing the cost of food production to the environment and public health will likely increase the cost to consumers and taxpayers. "Everything is possible," says Eugénia Pommaret, director of the Union of Plant Protection Industries, a pesticide trade group in Paris. "It's just a question of costs."

    The key to change will be collaboration among all the players in the food system, adds Florence Leprince, an agronomist at Arvalis, a technical institute for arable crops in Montardon, France. "Solutions exist, but they are far from covering all the needs," she says. "It's more about increasing the commitment of everyone to change the way of producing."


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    No result found, try new keyword!Instead, the management of the physical solid-state storage to the computer's operating system (like Linux 4.4 ... because of the delay in Shannon sales. eMMC controllers will be down (cancelling ...


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