Specialist soft drinks producer Hansen Natural Corporation has reported record sales for both the third quarter and the first three months of the year.

The company said gross sales for the quarter had risen by 61.8% to US$204.5m, while net sales were up by 69.3% at $178.5m.

Gross sales for the nine months to the end of September rose by 73.7% to $524.4m, with net sales for the nine months increasing by 81.1% to $454.3m.

However, gross profit as a percentage of net sales for the third quarter fell to 51.6% from 52.5% in the corresponding quarter last year, the company said, attributing the lower profitability to increased inbound freight costs, changes in product mix, and increases in certain raw material costs. Gross profit as a percentage of net sales for the nine months also fell, to 52.0% from 52.1% a year ago.

The company said the record revenues primarily reflected continued strong sales of its Monster Energy energy drink brand, the introduction of Ace Energy energy drinks and expanded distribution for Joker Mad Energy energy drinks.

"While the energy category continues to show strong growth over the prior year, the growth of Monster continues to outpace all of its major competitors," said chairman and CEO Rodney C. Sacks. "Monster gained both increased distribution and market share during the quarter."

Growth in teas, lemonades and juice cocktails had also contributed to third-quarter sales gains, the company stated, but this was partially offset by lower sales volumes of Hansen's energy drinks, Smoothies in cans and Energade.

Last month, Hansen announced that it had received notification from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting it to submit documents and information relating to its filing of SEC Forms 4 and its stock option grant practices from 1996 to the present. Hansen subsequently said that it had appointed a special committee to undertake an investigation of certain option grants and retained independent counsel to conduct the investigation. Pending the conclusion of that investigation, the company said it had determined to report only selected financial information for the third quarter and nine months to the end of September.