Third Quarter Financial Highlights:
Net sales in the third quarter were $135.0 million, an increase of 0.6% compared to $134.2 million in the third quarter of 2012. Excluding favorable currency effects of $0.6 million, third quarter 2013 net sales increased 0.2% from the third quarter of 2012, with an increase of 2.2% in the roll covers segment partially offset by a decrease of (0.9)% in the clothing segment.
Net sales for the nine months ended September 30, 2013 were $413.2 million, an increase of 2.0% from $405.0 million in 2012. Excluding unfavorable currency effects of $(0.9) million, net sales for the nine months ended September 30, 2013 increased 2.2% from 2012, with an increase of 1.3% in the clothing segment and an increase of 4.1% in the roll covers segment.
Gross profit increased $4.2 million, or 8.6% from gross profit in the third quarter of 2012, and gross margin improved to 39.5% in the third quarter of 2013 from 36.6% in the third quarter of 2012. These improved results were largely due to reduced operating costs as a result of restructuring savings and operational efficiencies, partially offset by unfavorable regional and product sales mix.
For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, gross profit increased by 9.5% over gross profit for the nine months ended September 30, 2012, and gross margin increased to 38.9% from 36.2% for the nine months ended September 30, 2012. These increases were primarily driven by incremental savings from cost reduction programs and operational efficiencies and favorable factory overhead absorption, partially offset by unfavorable regional and product sales mix.
The Company's operating expenses (selling, general and administrative and research and development expenses) of $34.9 million for the third quarter of 2013 decreased by $2.0 million, or 5.4%, from operating expenses of $36.9 million in the third quarter of 2012.
This decrease is comprised of our cost reduction activities of $2.9 million and a decrease of $1.6 million due to charges recorded in 2012 related to CEO transition costs. Offsetting these decreases was an increase of $1.3 million in management incentive expense in 2013, an increase of $0.6 million in professional fees and China press felt plant startup costs of $0.3 million.
Restructuring expenses were $3.0 million in the third quarter of 2013. These included charges relating to previously announced headcount reductions and the closure of a clothing facility in Spain.
Net interest expense was $9.4 million for the third quarter of 2013 compared to $9.8 million for the third quarter of 2012. The decrease was primarily related to lower average debt balances and amortization of deferred financing fees during the third quarter of 2013 versus the third quarter of 2012. Interest expense less amortization of deferred financing costs was $8.7 million for the third quarter of 2013 and $8.8 million for the third quarter of 2012.
Income tax provision increased to $3.1 million in the third quarter of 2013 from $0.1 million in the third quarter of 2012. Excluding the effects of restructuring activities, our effective tax rate for the third quarter of 2013 was 37.0%. This overall effective tax rate reflects the fact that we have losses in certain jurisdictions where we receive no tax benefit.
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