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Estée Lauder Q4'19 EPS tops expectations on strong sales, cost reductions

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Estée Lauder Q4'19 EPS tops expectations on strong sales, cost reductions

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. on Aug. 19 reported adjusted EPS for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 that handily beat analysts' expectations and said it expects to achieve a 10% to 12% increase in diluted earnings per share before various adjustments for the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

The cosmetics company said normalized EPS for the quarter ended June 30, was 64 cents compared to 61 cents in the year-ago quarter. The company was expected to report normalized EPS of 54 cents, according to the consensus analyst forecast compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Net sales rose 9% to $3.59 billion from $3.30 billion.

In premarket trading on the NYSE, Estée Lauder's shares rose 6% to $190.00.

"We ended the year with a strong fourth quarter, driven largely by the same growth engines we had throughout the year," said Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO, in a statement. "Additionally, we saw modest improvement in our U.S. business despite a tough retail environment."

The company benefited from better performance in Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets. The skin care business, led by Estée Lauder and La Mer, as well as the travel retail and online operations also performed well. Savings and cost reductions helped the company increase profit ahead of net sales growth.

For the full year, net sales rose 9% to $14.86 billion from $13.68 billion in fiscal 2018. Net earnings rose to $1.79 billion from $1.12 billion and diluted net EPS increased to $4.82 from $2.95.

"Prestige beauty continues to be one of the most desirable consumer sectors," added Freda. "We expect another year of strong net sales growth, margin improvement and a double-digit increase in earnings per share."

Estée Lauder expects the global prestige industry to grow 6%-7% in fiscal 2020 but said it was mindful of various risks that could affect consumer spending in some countries. These include continued softness in brick-and-mortar retail in the U.S. and U.K., especially for makeup products; costs related to the U.K.'s planned departure from the European Union; escalation of trade tensions between the U.S. and China; and protests in key shopping areas in Hong Kong.

In its forecast for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, the company said it expects reported net sales to increase between 9% and 10% versus the year-ago quarter. It also expects reported diluted net EPS, excluding restructuring and other charges and adjustments, to be between $1.56 and $1.59.

In its forecast for the full year, Estée Lauder said it expects a 7%-8% increase in net sales compared to the prior-year period, which is at the high end its long-term growth of 6%-8%. "As part of this, the company aims to stabilize the North America business despite the currently tough retail environment," the statement said. It forecasts reported diluted net EPS, excluding restructuring and other charges and adjustments, to be between $5.90 and $5.98.