Avon Earnings Soar 75% in Q4

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Getting a boost from its U.S. and European operations, Avon Products Inc. posted a 75 percent jump in its fourth-quarter earnings yesterday. However, the company also said that it expects first-quarter profit to be flat as it absorbs the costs of revamping its beComing line.

The cosmetics company, known for its door-to-door sales force, earned $193 million for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared with $110.4 million in the year-ago period. Total sales were $1.84 billion, up more than 5 percent from $1.75 billion in the year-ago quarter.

In the United States, sales grew even more in the fourth quarter for Avon, New York, capping one of the best years for its largest business unit despite the lackluster economy. Sales jumped 6 percent and operating profit rose 14 percent.

Europe also posted strong growth, with Q4 sales up 28 percent. In the Pacific region, sales rose 9 percent and operating profit increased 21 percent. Latin American sales, excluding the effect of currency translation, were up 23 percent.

For the year ended Dec. 31, the company had earnings of $534.6 million compared with $444.6 million in the year-ago period. Sales reached $6.23 billion, up from $6 billion.

Last week, the company said that it is ending its partnership with JC Penney, which sells the beComing line in its stores, and instead will sell the brand through its own direct sales team.

Avon is the world's largest direct seller of beauty products.


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