By  on August 31, 2006

PARIS - L’Oreal exceeded market expectations Thursday, when it reported a 21.9 percent spike in net profits, to 1.087 billion euros, or $1.34 billion at average exchange rates, for the first half of this year.

The strong performance makes it look highly likely the French beauty giant will hit its targeted double-digit earnings-per-share growth for 2006.

L’Oreal’s profits came on sales that, as reported, reached 7.79 billion euros, or $9.58 billion, an 8.7 percent increase in the half ended June 30. On a like-for-like basis, the company’s first-half sales rose 5.8 percent.

L’Oreal’s profits were announced at a financial analysts’ meeting held in the company’s headquarters in the Paris suburb of Clichy.

The conference was banner in many respects. For one, the session marked the first time Jean-Paul Agon, the firm’s new chief executive officer, led the meeting. For the past 22 years, Lindsay Owen-Jones, now the company’s non-executive chairman, had been at the helm.

For complete coverage, see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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