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Jean-Paul Agon Discusses L’Oreal’s Financial Results

The ceo and future chairman said the worldwide cosmetics market returned to growth in 2010.

PARIS — Less than 24 hours after L’Oréal first said he would add the role of chairman to his current position of chief executive officer starting next month, Jean-Paul Agon addressed financial analysts and journalists during a three-hour conference Friday.

Speaking at L’Oréal headquarters in the Paris suburb of Clichy, Agon reviewed the company’s recent financials. As reported, L’Oréal’s fourth-quarter 2010 sales rose 11.4 percent to 5 billion euros, or $6.77 billion at average exchange. The company’s full-year net profits spiked 24.9 percent to 2.24 billion euros, or $2.98 billion, and its sales in the period climbed 11.6 percent to 19.5 billion euros, or $25.89 billion.

Agon said the worldwide cosmetics market returned to growth in 2010, with the increase estimated at 4 percent. For 2011, the gain could be in the order of 3 percent to 4 percent.

“In the medium and long term, we are very confident about the sustainable development potential of the cosmetics market, whose global growth may even accelerate because of the increasingly important weight of the new markets in which the emergence of the middle class is boosting the consumption of beauty products,” said Agon, referring to markets outside of Western Europe and North America.

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During 2011, L’Oréal will open subsidiaries in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

The firm reached a milestone in China in 2010, when its revenues there surpassed 1 billion euros, or $1.35 billion at current exchange. The country became L’Oréal’s third largest market worldwide.

“In 2011, for the first time, the new markets may be the group’s number-one zone for sales,” continued Agon.

Agon called Lindsay Owen-Jones, L’Oréal’s outgoing chairman, “the great architect and great builder of the international success of the L’Oréal company.”

Owen-Jones will no longer have an operational role at the company starting March 17, when he becomes its honorary chairman. However, Owen-Jones will remain chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation.