I still believe that Helen of Troy (NASDAQ:HELE) is someday going to put the pieces together and have another decent run. Trouble is, I'm not sure if I'll have the patience to keep watching long enough to spot it when it happens.

This was another quarter of wading through oatmeal for this maker of personal care and household goods. Sales were up a little more than 2%, but margins fell once again. In fact, operating income was actually down nearly 30% from the year-ago period, due in large part to higher selling, general, and administrative expenses. On a slightly more positive note, the company reported that EBITDA fell only 15% from the year-ago quarter.

I found the sales breakdown to be interesting. Personal-care sales were up nearly 5% -- a performance that the company chalked up to its efforts to sell more higher-priced goods (presumably through retail outlets like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT)). My take is slightly different: After six straight quarters of pathetic performance, you'd hope the company would eventually hit a low enough base so that it couldn't help but grow.

What concerns me a bit more, though, is the performance of the housewares business (that is, the OXO business). Sales here were down more than 6% from the year-ago period. The company blamed lower shipment volumes and some problems that required price concessions. Now, I always figured that growth here had to slow eventually, but I'll certainly be keen on seeing how the next quarter shapes up for this business.

It's odd to me to see so many of the smaller branded-products companies struggling. Spectrum Brands (NYSE:SPC), Chattem (NASDAQ:CHTT), Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD), Helen of Troy -- all of these are of course in slightly different businesses, but all have had challenges recently. With that in mind, maybe Helen of Troy just needs some more time and some more patience.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).