Shares of Playtex (NYSE:PYX) plummeted about 18% today to a new 52-week low of around $6.20 after the personal-products company dramatically reduced earnings expectations for its second quarter and fiscal year.

Increased tampon competition from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and dreary sunless weather for much of the country hit Playtex where it hurts -- in its feminine hygiene products and Banana Boat sun care lines.

Playtex recently scored a legal win against Procter & Gamble, obtaining a permanent injunction against its bigger rival. P&G had aggressively launched and marketed Tampax Pearl tampons about nine months ago, and advertised them as superior to Playtex's Gentle Glide line. A court ruled that a no-no and also ordered P&G to pay Playtex $2.96 million to remedy the situation. Still, the heated competition is sapping sales for the latter.

The company now expects to earn between $0.08-$0.10 a share for the second quarter. Analysts were anticipating $0.23 a share based on Playtex's April guidance. It earned $0.32 a diluted share in last year's Q2, excluding a $0.06-per-share extraordinary loss. For the full year, it is hoping for $0.42-$0.45, well below the expected $0.74. The second-quarter shortfall, and anticipated continued business weakness across product lines, contributed to the lowered outlook.

Playtex expects revenues for its second quarter to be 10% below the $201.6 million in sales from the prior Q2. Analysts hadn't projected such a steep drop, and were looking for $199.7 million. For 2003, Playtex thinks revenues will be 5% to 6% lower than in 2002.

Today's sell-off, combined with the company's reduced outlook, puts Playtex trading at a forward P/E of around 14 to 15. Despite the discounted shares, its competitive problems and messy outlook don't make this one a bargain.