Avon Products Inc., New York, raised its earnings estimates slightly, citing stronger-than-expected operating re-sults in the U.S. and Europe. Avon executives said the company now expects earnings before items of $2.31 a share for 2002, up a penny from its Oct. 18 estimate. The new estimate compares with $2.09 a share before items in 2001. Last year, items reduced reported earnings by $0.24 a share, to $1.85 a share.
For the fourth quarteer, Avon anticipates earnings before items of $0.79 a share. Sales are expected to be up 4-5%, thanks to 8-9% growth in sales of beauty products, driven by double-digit increases in the U.S. Avon executives said the growth reflects the company’s strategy to focus resources on its beauty business.
Solid profit growth in the quarter for international operations is expected, with double-digit gains in Europe and Asia more than offsetting an estimated 10% profit decline in Latin America, where currency translation continues to hurt results.
For 2003, Avon forecasted “significant” improvement in margins as benefits of its restructuring initiatives acelerate. The company will again target double-digit earnings a share growth before items for 2003. Cash flow from operations is forecast to be within the company’s predicted range of $500-550 million annually.
“Looking ahead, we are confident in the future of our business,” said Andrea Jung, Avon’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement.