PARIS — The French Bourse responded favorably to L’Oréal’s first-half earnings results, which beat many analysts’ expectations more than twofold. The beauty giant’s stock closed Thursday at $74.01, up 5.8...
PARIS — The French Bourse responded favorably to L’Oréal’s first-half earnings results, which beat many analysts’ expectations more than twofold. The beauty giant’s stock closed Thursday at $74.01, up 5.8 percent.
On Wednesday L’Oréal posted net profits before exceptional items up 29.6 percent to $754.4 million year-on-year.
For the six months ended June 30, the firm registered adjusted operating profits, including exchange gains and losses, of $1.03 billion, up 27.2 percent versus the same period in 2001. Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.
L’Oréal’s consolidated first-half group sales were $7.29 billion, up 5.6 percent based on a consolidated basis and 8.6 percent on a like-for-like basis.
Following Wednesday’s announcement, numerous major investment banks upgraded their L’Oréal recommendations. For instance, Merrill Lynch switched it to "buy" from "neutral," Exane to "outperform" from "neutral" and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein to "add" from "hold." This comes just four months after DrKW — among others — issued a "sell" recommendation on L’Oréal.
At that time, some money managers recommended to sell so-called "defensive" stocks, such as those in the cosmetics industry, since they believed the market was in the early part of an economic upturn and wanted to buy equities whose earnings would sharply increase at such a time. Subsequently, however, analysts have seen such a recovery delayed.
"L’Oréal’s results themselves were quite outstanding," said Sandhya Raju, equity analyst, vice president at Merrill Lynch in London, of the first-half figures, which were presented at a two-hour analyst meeting at L’Oréal’s corporate headquarters in the Paris suburb of Clichy.
"Nobody was expecting the magnitude of the increase," agreed Antoine Belge, a Paris-based luxury goods analyst at ABN Amro.
"Margin improvements were what surprised most analysts, as well," continued Raju.
While many forecasted a little uptick, L’Oréal’s margins in the period progressed to 14 percent of sales, from 11 percent in the first half of the previous year. EBIT increased 27 percent.
These resulted from numerous factors, including a cost of goods decline to 17.3 percent due to economies of scale, an improved product mix, a successful integration of acquisitions and enhanced inventory management. External charges also were weighted less as a percentage of sales in the first half. In the first half of 2001, they were 46.1 percent of sales, versus 44.5 percent in this year’s period."We’re seeing the rate of L’Oréal’s profitability improve at a faster rate than in the past," said Raju.
"L’Oréal is now reaping the fruits of previous acquisitions and investments in new markets," said Belge.
For instance, the firm’s sales were up 64 percent in China, 35 percent in Korea, 33 percent in Thailand, 26 percent in Brazil, 16 percent in Mexico and 33 percent in South Africa.
Even in Germany — a particularly difficult market these days — L’Oréal’s sales increased by 5.6 percent.
The firm cited numerous products as "exceptionally successful," including Fructis Style from Garnier, Visible Results and Lash Architect from L’Oréal Paris, and Wet Shine Diamonds from Maybelline, in the consumer products division. In luxury products, it highlighted Armani Mania men’s fragrance, plus Lancôme’s Absolue Yeux, Biotherm’s Source Therapie and Helena Rubinstein’s Prodigy, for instance.
During the meeting, Lindsay Owen-Jones, L’Oréal’s chairman and chief executive officer, emphasized his firm’s skin care sales, which were up 26 percent in the period. Many analysts interpreted this to mean that the firm is not keen to bolster its position in the category via the acquisition of Nivea from Beiersdorf, as recent rumors suggest.
"I don’t think L’Oréal needs to acquire Beiersdorf," said one analyst. "L’Oréal can really grow internally."
Some key negatives noted by analysts among L’Oréal’s first-half figures were increased personnel charges, which accounted for 19.3 percent of sales in the first half of 2002 — primarily due to the implementation of the 35-hour work week in France and a more linear accounting of pension costs. Last year, personnel charges were 18.9 percent.
Without attempting to project the first-half results into a full year, "the first-half results seem to us to be extremely encouraging," said Owen-Jones. "[This year] should be a very good year for L’Oréal."
"I’m pigeonholing a ‘good year’ [at] 15 percent to 20 percent earnings growth," said Raju.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye