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Beiersdorf Profit Drops 25.6% in First Quarter

German cosmetics giant Beiersdorf reported a 25.6 percent drop in overall operating profit for the first quarter of 2009.

BERLIN — German cosmetics giant Beiersdorf reported a 25.6 percent drop in overall operating profit for the first quarter of 2009, from 195 million euros, or $292.5 million at average exchange, to 145 million euros, or $190 million.

The preliminary results, which were released Friday, show the company’s consumer segment, which includes Nivea, La Prairie and Eucerin, had a mixed first quarter. Operating results for the segment declined 15.8 percent to about 144 million euros, or $188.6 million, with like-for-like sales roughly unchanged, decreasing 0.5 percent.

Growth in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and Eastern Europe lagged, and Beiersdorf’s major markets for skin and beauty care also declined, with the exception of its home market. Sales growth in many markets was impacted by destocking at its retail partners, the company stated.

“Our global consumer markets are recording mixed performance and are dominated by a hesitancy to spend,” said Thomas-B. Quaas, chairman of the executive board of Beiersdorf AG. “Nevertheless, we were able to maintain our consumer business at last year’s high level in the first quarter.”

His corporate forecast for the consumer division on-year was positive: “We are confident that we shall again succeed in outperforming the market in 2009, and are therefore forecasting sales for the consumer business segment that are slightly in excess of last year.” The company called 2008 its “most successful year in history.”

Hamburg-based Beiersdorf was most affected by drops in its Tesa adhesives business unit, with earnings before interest and taxes plunging from last year’s 34.5 million euros, or $30.1 million, to 1 million euros, or $1.3 million, due to economic downturns in the electronics and automotive industries.

Further details concerning Beiersdorf’s first-quarter results will be published in an interim report on May 5.