TOP NOTES

PICTURE PERFECT DETENTE: L’Oreal is spending $350,000 to sponsor an exhibit in Hong Kong titled, “From Peking to Versailles: The Artistic Relations Between China and France.”
The show, which features 150 Chinese objects from the collections of the French national museums, will open April 28 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art and run through June 15, just before the colony reverts to Chinese control.
L’Oreal is currently expanding its activities in China. The group opened a Maybelline factory in Suzhou, near Shanghai, late last year and has a joint venture with the College of Medicine of Suzhou. A second factory is set to open at the end of 1998.

DRAKKAR’S DRIVEAWAY: Peugeot has teamed with L’Oreal’s Drakkar Noir to launch a black Speedfight scooter with the fragrance name emblazoned on the front in white lettering.
The scooter, which will launch in late May in France, Portugal, Belgium and Italy, will be $2,400 (13,290 francs). It will be sold at Peugeot dealerships. As part of a Father’s Day promotion, Drakkar has organized a month-long contest in all four countries starting May 26; winners will receive scooters.
The contest is held in Drakkar doors, where contestants fill out a form and then participate in a drawing, and on the airwaves; the French radio station NRJ is awarding one scooter per day to a listener. No Drakkar Noir purchase is necessary to enter the contest. In France, 200 scooters will be distributed to winners.

TAKING A CHARGE: Jean Philippe Fragrances Inc. will take a first-quarter charge of $1.3 million to write off intangible assets and other expenses related to relinquishing its Cutex nail and lip products license.
Jean Philippe is giving up the license as part of an agreement to sell its Cutex trademarks to Carson Inc. It also plans to restructure its work force in the process. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
“Relinquishing the Cutex license is an integral part of a planned restructuring of our domestic operations,” Jean Madar, chief executive officer, said in a statement. “As a result, we can now focus company resources on our profitable core business.”
Separately, Jean Philippe said its fourth-quarter earnings slipped to $1.1 million, or 12 cents a share, from $3.7 million, or 36 cents, a year ago, after a $3.3 million gain in the year-ago quarter from the sale of stock of a subsidiary, only partially offset by a $1.3 million charge for discontinuing the Cutex lip color line.
Sales for the three months ended Dec. 31 inched ahead 1.6 percent to $24.8 million from $24.4 million.

REVLON RATED: Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the rating outlook for Revlon Consumer Products, the operating unit of Revlon Inc., to stable from negative.
The upgrade follows the deposit by Revlon Worldwide Corp., parent of Revlon Inc., of sufficient funds to cover the payment of $1.1 billion in zero coupon notes of Worldwide that fall due in March 1998.
The revision of the outlook for Revlon Consumer Products reflects the removal of the risk that a refinancing would be required to pay off the $1.1 billion of Worldwide debt, S&P said.
The rating agency also noted that Revlon ratings are based on solid and growing market shares in core cosmetics areas offset by financial measures that remain weak despite improvements in financial performance.
In discussing the stable outlook, S&P said, “While sales and profitability are on an improving trend, internally generated free cash flow remains thin, limiting opportunities for debt reduction and meaningful improvement in credit statistics.”

SHOPKO SOARS: Topping Wall Street estimates of 71 cents a share, ShopKo Stores said fourth-quarter earnings leaped 15.5 percent to $24.3 million, or 76 cents a share. A year earlier, the 130-unit discount chain netted $21.1 million, or 66 cents a share. Sales for the three months ended Feb. 22 gained 27 percent to $632.8 million from $498.4 million.
For the year, earnings rose 16.9 percent to $44.9 million, or $1.40 a share, from $38.4 million, or $1.20 a share. Sales grew 18.6 percent, to $2.3 billion, versus $2 billion. ShopKo stock added 1/2 to close at 17 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Green Bay, Wis.-based company said it will take a first-quarter charge of between $1.6 million and $2 million after taxes to cover costs associated with the termination of a planned merger with the Ohio-based Phar-Mor Inc., announced Wednesday. The merger was scrapped because of “continuing uncertainties in consummating the transaction.”
In September, the two agreed to merge in a complex deal valued at up to $579.6 million.
“While we continue to believe that a strategic combination would make sense, it became clear that the transaction as contemplated was not likely to be completed and that the continuing uncertainty is not in the best interests of our shareholders,” said Dale P. Kramer, president and chief executive officer of ShopKo.
ShopKo operates 130 stores in 15 states. Phar-Mor operates 103 drugstores in 18 states.

Avon Promotions: Avon Products Inc. promoted six senior vice presidents to executive vice president to groom them for future leadership positions. They included Susan J. Kropf, who also was president of new and emerging markets. She was named president of Avon’s U.S. division in addition to executive vice president.
Kropf succeeds Christina A. Gold, who was put in charge of global direct-selling development, a new post.
Andrea Jung, president of global marketing, has added responsibilities for new businesses.
Alfredo Cuello, formerly president of Avon Western Europe, is now executive vice president and president of Avon Europe, with added responsibility over Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
Jose Ferreira, who is president of the Asia-Pacific division, has gained the additional responsibility of China. Fernando Lezama, president of the Mexico and Central America units, is now executive vice president with responsibility for Latin America.

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