PARIS — Groupe Clarins said Thursday that its full-year consolidated operating margin should be lower than in 2001, when it was at the 9.2 percent level, because of "the difficult economic situation marked by very poor visibility and with no signs of recovery."

However, it maintains that the sales of its cosmetics division will grow faster than the market.

For the half-year, Clarins’ operating profit was down 41.1 percent, to $28.7 million. All figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

The firm cited the losses recorded by Thierry Mugler’s couture division and the fragrance distribution activity, rising production costs and selling expenses, and weak sales in May and June — particularly the Clarins brand — as reasons for the decline.

Earlier this summer, thefirm had warned that its first-half operating profits could drop 40 percent from year-ago levels.

The net profit was down 22.9 percent, to $18.8 million in the period, "thanks to unrealized gains on foreign exchange hedges and a lower tax rate."

As reported, Clarins posted consolidated net sales for the first half of 2002 of $435 million, up 2.8 percent year-on-year.

Clarins said business should improve in the second half of the year, thanks to an easier comparison with the difficult economic environment of the second half of 2001, a busier launch schedule than in the first half, in particular in fragrance distribution and for the Clarins brand, with the new men’s line Clarins Men.

Its stock closed on the Paris Bourse up 1.89 percent to $39.70.

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