BERLIN — With sales growth of 7.2 percent and an earnings before interest and taxes margin of 13 percent, 2002 was another record year for the Beiersdorf Group’s Cosmed division, according to Uwe Wölfer, the Beiersdorf executive board member responsible for the Cosmed division.

Confirming a preliminary release in mid-January, 2002 sales reached $3.45 billion, up from $3.21 billion in the previous year. At constant exchange rates, the division’s sales rose 10.3 percent.

Florena Cosmetic GmbH, which Beiersdorf acquired in 2002, contributed $54.9 million to Cosmed sales. Skin care products from Beiersdorf’s medical division, primarily under the Eucerin and Hydrofugal brands, generated an additional $236.2 million to Beiersdorf’s total skin and personal care business.

While Beiersdorf did not specify earnings figures, a 13 percent EBIT margin would amount to earnings of about $448.5 million, Wölfer acknowledged.

Nivea, the main motor behind Beiersdorf’s beauty business, increased sales by 6.9 percent to $2.86 billion .

At Beiersdorf’s annual Cosmed financial press conference here Wednesday, Wölfer once again emphasized Beiersdorf’s focus on qualitative growth. "That means as many leading, and thus profitable market positions as possible in each product category and in every country," he said.

Nivea holds 160 leading market positions in the 54 countries where the brand is actively merchandised, up from 140 number-one slots last year. Five years ago, Nivea held 50 number-one positions, and by 2006, Beiersdorf plans to increase that amount to 250, Wölfer said.

International sales accounted for 73 percent of total Cosmed sales, reaching $2.53 billion, a gain of 7.6 percent. Currency effects had a serious effect, however, on sales in many regions. In North and South America, sales declined 9.9 percent to $448 million, but at constant exchange rates increased by 2.2 percent. In the U.S., for example, sales were barely up 0.3 percent to $194 million, but at constant exchange rates would have grown 6.8 percent.

Argentina was by far the hardest hit by currency and economic problems, with sales down 66 percent to $12 million, compared with $36 million in 2001.

Conversely, Asia/Africa/Australia grew sales by 12.9 percent, or 19.7 percent at constant exchange rates. Japanese sales remained at low levels, the company said, though sales grew 5.5 percent in local currency. But in China, sales jumped 25.8 percent, South Africa 56 percent, South Korea 19 percent, Australia 19.7 percent and Indonesia 31.8 percent on a euro basis.

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