Emerging markets lead profit gain at L’Oreal

PARIS (AP) — A rebound in North America and surging sales in emerging markets pushed French cosmetics giant L’Oreal’s profit up 5 percent in the first half of the year.

The company behind the Lancome and Maybelline cosmetics ranges said Thursday that net income was 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in the January-to-June period. That was exactly in line with the consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue was 11.7 billion euros, also up 5 percent from a year earlier.

L’Oreal, known for turning in solid profits year after year, has been pushing into emerging markets to maintain that performance. Earlier this month, the company made a takeover offer for skincare company Magic Holdings to help it expand in China’s fast-growing beauty market. Regulatory approval is pending.

New markets already pull in more revenue than either North America or Europe, and the effort to diversify its business appears to have paid off: L’Oreal said its operating profitability, at 17.4 percent of sales for the first half, was at a historic high.

Sales in new markets were up 7 percent; they rose 6.7 percent in North America. Even in Western Europe, where many companies are posting losses, revenue rose 1.6 percent.

Revenue grew in all of its cosmetics divisions, apart from its ethical cosmetics brand, The Body Shop. The company said the chain of stores typically pulls in more of its revenue in the second half of the year.

CEO Jean-Paul Agon confirmed the company’s guidance that it would outperform the market and turn in a growth in sales and profit this year.

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