L’Oréal Q3 Sales Rise 11.8%

The French beauty giant’s nine-month revenues grew 10.9 percent in the face of a slowdown in Asia and the travel-retail channel.

Jean-Paul Agon

PARIS — Amid a slowdown in Asia and the travel-retail channel, L’Oréal’s third-quarter sales rose 11.8 percent year-on-year.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The French beauty giant’s like-for-like revenue gain was 4.6 percent to 5.52 billion euros, or $6.91 billion at average exchange, in the three months ended Sept. 30.

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This marked a sequential deceleration, compared with the 6.4 percent like-for-like company growth in the first quarter and 5.7 percent uptick in the second quarter of 2012.

“The most notable slowdown was in Professional (+0.1 percent), which saw its lowest quarterly growth since 2009. Luxe (+6.6 percent) also weakened (down from +12 percent in the first quarter and +8.7 percent in the second quarter) and the New Markets (+8.1 percent) stayed in single digits for the fifth quarter in the last six, while Western Europe (-0.6 percent) stayed in negative territory,” said Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., in a research note. “North America remained L’Oréal’s star performer (+7.1 percent).”

Also on a like-for-like basis, the company’s Consumer Products division’s sales grew 4.9 percent in the third quarter. Its Active Cosmetics division’s revenues increased 5.6 percent, while The Body Shop and Dermatology sales rose 5.1 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

In the nine months ended Sept. 30, L’Oréal registered revenues of 16.73 billion euros, or $21.45 billion at average exchange, up 10.9 percent. On a like-for-like basis, sales gained 5.6 percent.

L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon during a conference call Tuesday night confirmed that the fourth quarter will be “slightly better” than the third quarter for the company, due to some of the recent well-received second-half product launches, such as the women’s fragrances La vie est belle from Lancôme and Manifesto from Yves Saint Laurent.

As for the Professional Products division, he said, “We believe that the next quarter will be better for us” and that the third quarter “was a low point.”

Regarding the beauty industry at large, Agon said: “We are quite confident for the evolution of the market.” He explained it’s growing between 3 percent and 4 percent in the U.S., for instance, that in new emerging markets such as Latin America it is “still very positive,” and “pretty solid” in France, the U.K. and Germany.

Agon added L’Oréal continues to believe the overall beauty market should be pretty solid through the end of this year and also in 2013.

He maintained L’Oréal’s 2012 targets of outperforming the cosmetics business, which the company estimates will grow approximately 4 percent worldwide this year, and to achieve growth in sales and profits.