NEW YORK — The stock market appeared profoundly unimpressed Thursday by the latest rash of speculation that Revlon is once again teetering on the financial edge. The company’s stock price finished at $3.11, up 1 cent, or a 0.31 percent increase, on the New York Stock Exchange.

The all-too-familiar drama was revisited yet again by the fact that Revlon seems to be facing another cash crunch, raising questions whether owner Ronald Perelman is willing to ante up for at least the third time to stave off bankruptcy or even put the business on the block.

Revlon’s financial woes have been an ongoing saga for years, with Perelman personally rushing to the rescue with multimillion dollar cash infusions to keep the wobbly cosmetics giant afloat. But the word now is that the latest $215 million funding mix — a $100 million term loan, a $50 million rights offering and a $65 million line of credit — from Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, may not be sufficient to carry it through the New Year.

Revlon has been engaged in a budget balancing act as it services a $1.7-plus billion debt while trying to invest in product development and marketing programs to rebuild the business.

Still, Revlon executives are deflecting the latest Wall Street concerns and sticking by its turnaround plan.

“The position we’ve taken is Revlon has and continues to have the resources it needs to execute its growth plan and achieve its growth,” said James Conroy, spokesman for Perelman. Whether or not Perelman would infuse more cash if necessary, Conroy could not answer. Perelman, he said, was unavailable for comment.

Conroy also stressed, “There are no plans to sell any part of the company.”

Revlon’s latest turnaround plan, crafted by a management team led by chief executive officer Jack Stahl, has emphasized heavy investment in the brand in order to restore market share. The efforts have been working. For the past 10 consecutive months, Revlon’s share has steadily increased, said Debra Leipman-Yale, executive vice president for the Revlon brand. For the second quarter, reported on July 30, the Revlon brand inched up another 60 basis points to a 17 percent market share, while Almay moved up 30 basis points for a 5.6 percent market share. If not for a weak cosmetics market, results would have been even stronger, said Revlon executives. The market share gains came a price. Revlon posted a net loss of $37.8 million, or 68 cents a diluted share. That compared to a slightly larger loss of $38.9 million, or 74 cents.In response, Deutsche Bank bond analyst George S. Chalhoub reiterated, “a negative outlook” and maintain a “sell” recommendation on all Revlon bonds except its senior secured notes, which come due in 2005. Revlon has posted financial losses for 19 straight quarters.

“We remain concerned about Revlon’s ability to stabilize and potentially regrow its EBITDA by yearend 2003,” Chalhoub wrote in a report issued this month. “We calculate by yearend 2003, Revlon will have exhausted the new funds it should receive in 2003, posted $111.5 million in EBITDA, and be left with $27 million in total liquidity from all sources.”

The Deutsche Bank analyst projects Revlon’s EBITDA will weaken by year-end, “and, barring another cash infusion, will have insufficient funds to operate beyond fourth quarter 2003.”

Kevin Ziets, an analyst at Moody’s Investor Services, which carries a “CAA2” rating, concurs that Revlon has had periodic liquidity pressures and faces covenant violation at the end of January on its bank credit agreement. He warned it is quickly using up its existing cash and liquidity.

“At the end of the day, Revlon has the same problem. It still has too much leverage, spending $160 million each year in cash interest charges and it is maintaining about a $100 million in capital expenses for its plants and display spending that needs to be supported by operating earnings and they haven’t done so in some time,” he said.

“The situation is, one way or another, it has to de-leverage, meaning it has to lower its debt level in an absolute sense or relative its earnings,” Ziets said. “They are spending a lot of money supporting the brand and it has been expensive. They have hit a bit of a stiff wind in terms of the market they sell into.”

Financially troubled or not, one industry observer noted it wouldn’t make sense for Revlon to sell the company at this point when it has so many liquidity issues, noting it is best to sell out of strength and not out of proverbial weakness.

Still, he said that at the end of the day Revlon is not going away. “It will be a brand with strong name recognition and we will be buying their products,” he said. “What the capital structure or who will own it is up to conjecture.”Retailers have warmed up to Revlon over the past year after suffering sales losses and carrying inflated inventories for several years. By 2001 the brand had lost its market share leadership, slipping to third behind Cover Girl and Maybelline.

Robert Berman, vice president buying and merchandising for May’s Drug Stores, a 40-store operation based in Tulsa, Okla., said that Revlon and its sister brand Almay are now his stores fastest growing brands. From Feb. 1 to the end of July, retail sales of Revlon have jumped 15 percent and Almay surged 30 percent. “They have spent a lot of money on fixturing and on servicing our stores to get them up to speed,” said Berman. “They have done the right thing. I am impressed with the people from top to bottom.”

Yet, Berman acknowledged while his sales are strong, he operates a small chain and may not be representative of the grand scheme. As he put it, “We are not Wal-Mart.”

Wal-Mart, Revlon’s biggest customer declined to comment on the health of the brand. A spokeswoman would merely confirm that the cosmetics line continued to be carried at all of its stores and referred further inquiries to Revlon.

Under Stahl, Revlon has adopted a “360 degree” marketing platform intended to involve the brand in a spectrum of events, with a multimedia approach, to present a consistent brand message. And over the past year, Revlon has set out to revive its glamorous image.

Before its holiday Revlon Red Rocks program even gets under way, where it is heralding the return of red with a broad shade palette, the brand has started to talk up its next movie tie-in, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” which opens on Valentine’s Day.

Finishing up this week is a multimedia consumer venture in which Revlon hooked up with MTV for the “Most Unforgettable 24 Hours of Your Life” contest. The winner was to be announced last night during the MTV Video Music Awards broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The online contest drew entries from some 5,000 women for the chance at 24 hours of star treatment at the hands of Revlon. The crop was narrowed by Revlon executives with the help of its ad agency Deutsch to three finalists, who filmed promotional spots at the MTV beach house which have been running on the channel for the past two weeks.Leipman-Yale said that, while Revlon had been involved with the VMAs before as an advertiser, “this enabled us to more closely link the two.” Revlon also was its exclusive cosmetics sponsor and planned to set up four makeover stations to treat celebrities to touch ups throughout the show.

Before that, Revlon tied into the “dramality” series “America’s Next Top Model” on UPN. Created by Tyra Banks, the series put young hopefuls through the paces of life as a mannequin. Twenty-year-old Adrienne Curry, a brunette from Illinois came out on top, winning a Revlon modeling contract with both Revlon and the Wilhemina Agency, among other prizes.

The positioning of the Revlon brand, “is offering fun and endless possibilities,” commented Leipman-Yale. “Clearly any time we can take advantage of an opportunity to integrate [the Revlon message] into an experience that is relevant to the target, it is very exciting.”

Leipman-Yale, while inspired by its recent market share improvements, noted, “We still have a long way to go.” She said the company is committed to building “on the heritage of the brand.”

For its upcoming “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” movie role, Revlon recovered 50-year-old compacts, lipstick cases and tiny hand mirrors from its archives. They were offered up as props for the period film, set in Havana in the Fifties, a time of glamour. (It was actually filmed in Old San Juan.) The film’s lead makeup artist Patricia Regan, worked with Revlon to develop a shade palette to reflect the colors used on the actresses in the film. The promotional Havana Nights collection also uses packaging that borrows the basket weave pattern popular at the time.

Competing cosmetics manufacturers wonder if Revlon is laying out the right strategy for the long term and may be overspending, pointing to price discounts being offered by several retailers, including Eckerd which has a 25 percent off sale on Revlon items this week.

Meanwhile, Revlon is starting to pack up — it’s moving intonew offices at Park Avenue and 46th Street this fall.

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