NEW YORK — Avon Products Inc. Friday upped its first-quarter profit estimates by a penny, to 41 cents a share, including a charge of roughly 5 cents for the “repositioning” of its BeComing brand.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Last year, the firm posted earnings of 40 cents in the first quarter.

Despite the upward shift in outlook for the quarter, Avon maintained its projection for the full year of $2.55.

As reported, earlier this year Avon said it would pull the fledgling retail brand, which never really found its legs, from about 90 J.C. Penney Co. doors. This spring, Avon beauty advisers will begin selling BeComing fragrance, color and skin care products.

First-quarter sales for Avon are slated to increase 6 to 7 percent, or 11 to 12 percent in local currencies. Driving these sales will be double-digit gains in units as well as the number of active representatives.

“In the U.S., we expect sales to be up slightly, due to the temporary disruption to our business caused by severe snowstorms and war-related consumer uncertainty in recent weeks,” said chief executive officer Andrea Jung of the quarter in a statement. “U.S. operating profit should be up 5 to 6 percent, and operating margin should grow by some 80 basis points, even after a significant increase in strategic investments in the quarter.”

Investors drove up shares of the direct merchant of cosmetics $1.35, or 2.4 percent, to $56.90 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Over the last 52 weeks, the firm’s stock has traded as high as $57.10 and as low as $43.49.

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