Estee Lauder posts big Q4 loss on restructuring charges

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United states dollar

Estee Lauder posts a big fourth quarter loss after it experiences the double whammy of stiff restructuring charges and a big drop in sales.

Turnover for the quarter fell by 16 percent, to $1.68bn, compared to $2.01bn for the same period last year, which the company said represented a fall of 10 percent when discounting the negative impact of currency translations.

The results, compounded by stiff restructuring charges, meant that during the quarter the company registered a loss of $17.9m, compared to a profit of $120.2m in the corresponding quarter last year.

Restructuring charges more than double for Q4

The restructuring charges, which form part of the company’s turn around plan, were $85.1m, compared to charges of $39.3m in the corresponding quarter last year.

Executive chairman William Lauder said he was 'disappointed' by the company’s results, while CEO Fabrizio Freda emphasized the fact that the current restructuring program would bring about a more integrated business structure that would help bring about advantages on both a regional and a channel level.

Estee Lauder positions itself as a mass market prestige business, an area of the market that has been hard hit by consumers down grading to cheaper personal care brands in an effort to make tighter household budgets stretch further.

Down grading hits Europe and US markets

The company said that during the quarter, and throughout the year, this effect had been most noticed in its mainstay European and US markets.

However, the only region to show positive growth during the period was the Asia Pacific market, where sales were up 1.8 percent to $1.69bn, while sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region fell by 24 percent to $624.0m and fell by 14 3 percent in The Americas to $774.0m.

Turnover for the full financial year fell by 7.4 percent, down from $7.91bn in the corresponding quarter last year, to $7.32bn for the current quarter.

Currency translation hits international sales

The company said that the figures for the financial year represented a significant hit from currency translation on international sales, as the US dollar continued to be strong against other currencies.

Taking into consideration the impact of the negative currency translation, the company reported that sales fell by 2 percent, while charges associated with restructuring came in at $281.4m, compared to $473.8m for the previous financial year.

Looking ahead to the fiscal 2010 year, the company stressed that visibility was limited because it is still unknown to what extent and how much longer the negative economic conditions will exist, but it did stress that consumer spending, de-stocking and continued economic uncertainty are likely to negatively impact results.

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