NEW YORK — Aided by solid results in domestic and international operations, Avon Products reported earnings from continuing operations climbed 20 percent in the first quarter ended March 31.

Earnings from continuing operations rose to $29.5 million, or 41 cents a share, from $24.6 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier.

Sales gained 9 percent, to $913.6 million from $841.9 million.

After a $45.2 million charge for accounting changes, Avon had a net loss of $15.7 million in the latest quarter. In the 1993 quarter, Avon showed a loss of $92.9 million after charges of $107.5 million for accounting changes and a $10 million provision for discontinued operations.

Avon reported that sales of its U.S. operations rose 10 percent in the quarter while pretax income jumped 32 percent. The company did not provide dollar figures.

“We are pleased that the strong rebound in the U.S. business is continuing, aided by the launch of a new intimate apparel line and by sales increases in most of our categories, as well as an improving economy,” said James E. Preston, chairman and chief executive officer.

Preston added that the company is also seeing an increase in productivity of independent sales representatives in the U.S., citing a “significant increase” in the average order size.

International sales rose 10 percent, and pretax income was up 17 percent. No dollar figures were given.

In the Americas, sales rose 14 percent and profits increased, with strong results in Argentina. The Pacific region had an 18 percent sales increase and a “solid gain” in operating profits as growth in Japan and the Pacific Rim offset the higher expenses incurred by its expansion in China.

In Europe, sales were off 5 percent, reflecting the unfavorable currency exchange and continued recessionary pressure, and pretax profit declined as expected.

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