By  on April 22, 2010

L’Oréal achieved sales growth in all divisions and geographic areas as it posted first-quarter revenues of 4.72 billion euros, or $6.54 billion, up 8 percent from the same period a year ago.

On a like-for-like basis, stripping out the effects of currency fluctuation and structural changes, revenues increased 7.4 percent. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange for the three months ended March 31.

“The first quarter was very encouraging, as it marks a clear return to growth, even though the figures must be seen in the context of a weak comparison base and continuing uncertainties in some markets,” stated Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive officer of the Paris-based beauty giant. “The consumer products division is pursuing its strong growth, and there has been a clear rebound in the luxury products and professional products divisions.”

Sales in the consumer products unit rose 7.7 percent to 2.36 billion euros, or $3.27 billion, while the luxury unit managed a double-digit advance, growing 10.3 percent to crack the 1 billion euro plateau at 1.03 billion euros, or $1.4 billion.

“The powerful dynamism is continuing in the new markets, where L’Oréal has again significantly strengthened its positions,” Agon continued. “In North America, the group is growing in all divisions, while there remains a more contrasting situation in Western Europe,” he continued. “The first months of the year give us confidence for the full year 2010.”

North American sales were up 5.7 percent to 998 million euros, or $1.38 billion, while Western European sales grew 2.8 percent to 1.88 billion euros, or $2.61 billion. Revenues in new markets leaped 14.4 percent to 1.57 billion euros, or $2.17 billion, with Asia-Pacific bounding 14.4 percent to 772 million euros, or $1.07 billion, and Latin American revenues growing 21.2 percent to 307 million euros, or $425.4 million.

The first-quarter results reverse what had been a downward trend in North America, where fourth-quarter sales fell 10.4 percent on a reported basis. Sales in Western Europe also slumped in the final quarter of 2009, retreating 6.9 percent.

Earlier this week, L’Oréal USA reached an agreement to acquire Essie Cosmetics, one of the largest independent nail polish companies in the beauty market, for an undisclosed amount.

In trading in Paris Thursday, shares of L’Oréal closed down 0.2 percent at 79.88 euros, or $106.33 at current exchange.

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