There was plenty of good news in yesterday's announcement from food storage products maker Tupperware (NYSE:TUP) that it expects first-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $0.21 to $0.24 (including $0.01 or $0.02 from land development). Last year, the company turned in first-quarter EPS of $0.11. Sales, which improved 8% in last year's quarter to $272 million, are seen growing in the "high single digit" range again. (They'll be flat if currency effects are ignored.)

Investors cheered the news yesterday, sending Tupperware shares up nearly 7%.

Tupperware reported strong performance in its overseas markets, especially in Europe -- where sales and profits are expected to come in some 20% higher year over year, including foreign currency effects -- and also in Latin America. Lower interest expense and corporate costs are also expected to help grow profits. Full results are scheduled for an April 20 after-market release. The improvements in Latin America, as well as the Asia/Pacific region, are welcome, as both markets have challenged the company in recent quarters.

Profit growth at the company's BeautiControl business, meanwhile, would be set for a substantial jump but for costs associated with a retiring executive and legal matters. The sad news, however, is that the recovery in North America -- which we've chronicled in the past, but can summarize by saying the company is still adjusting to a new business model here that has hurt sales and recruiting -- is behind schedule.

Sales are falling and trends aren't improving. As a result, the company may have to increase its estimates for the division's loss in 2004. The news from overseas markets certainly does look good for the first quarter, but that the North American business (minus BeautiControl) is having sustained trouble getting its bearings is concerning. Tupperware plans to boost public relations in the U.S. this year, and one hopes that this and other efforts will help re-energize sales associates and customers alike.

Whatever happens in North America, it's party time on our Tupperware discussion board.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own shares of Tupperware.