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Estee, Arden profits top view, plan job cuts
* Estee Q2 EPS $0.80 vs Wall St view $0.77
* Estee sets 4-year plan to boost sales; cuts jobs
* Estee Q2 sales down 11.6 pct; Arden sales down 12.4 pct
* Estee, Arden stand by full-year EPS, sales views
* Estee shares down 2.8 pct; Arden up 7.4 pct
By Aarthi Sivaraman
NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Estee Lauder Cos Inc (EL.N) and Elizabeth Arden Inc (RDEN.O) posted quarterly profits that topped recently lowered expectations and stood by their full-year outlooks, but did not see recession pressures clearing any time soon.
Estee, known for its Clinique and M.A.C cosmetic brands, also announced a four-year restructuring plan on Thursday, taking such steps as slashing about 2,000 jobs over two years and boosting overseas sales to to cut expenses and boost overall revenue. The job cuts represent about 6 percent of its workforce.
Arden, which makes Britney Spears perfume and Prevage anti-aging skin products, also plans to cut jobs as it consolidates operations, but did not give details.
Shares of Arden rose 7.4 percent, while Estee slipped 2.8 percent.
"Many investors were expecting higher cost savings and faster capture of them," Sanford Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj said, referring to the drop in Estee shares.
Both companies had cut their profit views last month, citing disappointing sales during the holiday season. Sharp cutbacks in consumer spending made for the worst 2008 holiday season in nearly 40 years, as shoppers faced job losses, credit problems and declining home values.
"We know this recession is likely to be longer, deeper and tougher than any in recent memory," Estee Chief Executive William Lauder said during a conference call. The company said its outlook assumed the downturn would last at least 12 to 18 more months.
Estee's net profit fell to $158 million, or 80 cents per share, in the second quarter ended on Dec. 31 from $224.4 million, or $1.14 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average expected earnings of 77 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Sales fell about 11.6 percent to $2.04 billion.
For the full year, Estee continues to expect per-share earnings of $1.30 to $1.60, with sales flat to down 3 percent on a constant-currency basis.
Elizabeth Arden's second-quarter net profit fell to $17.4 million, or 61 cents per share, from $33.8 million or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.
But the profit of 61 cents a share, which excludes the effect of a Liz Claiborne LIZ.N license agreement and restructuring costs, topped the analysts' average forecast of 59 cents.
Sales fell 12.4 percent to $370 million.
Elizabeth Arden maintained its full-year sales outlook for a decline of 4 percent to 5 percent, and per-share earnings of 71 cents to 84 cents.
While "continuing to operate in a difficult economic environment," Arden was taking steps such as reducing inventory and accelerating cost savings to improve its profitability in fiscal 2010, CEO Scott Beattie said. (Editing by Derek Caney and Lisa Von Ahn)
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