UPDATE 2-Emerging markets lift Nivea-maker Beiersdorf's sales

Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:20am EST

* 2012 sales 6.04 bln euros, vs 6.03 bln forecast

* Sales strong in Russia, Poland, Latin America

* To publish full results March 5

* Shares up 0.3 percent, after fresh record high (Adds updated share prices, analyst comment)

By Victoria Bryan

FRANKFURT, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Sales of Nivea creams and lotions in emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia helped German group Beiersdorf counter a weak climate in Europe and post a 4.7 percent rise in full-year sales.

Emerging markets are a key battleground for European makers of personal care and household goods seeking to make up for stuttering growth at home.

Beiersdorf is setting up more research and production facilities in places such as China and Mexico, while German rival Henkel, maker of Persil detergent and Schwarzkopf hair products, is setting up in Brazil, South Africa and South Korea to develop products for local consumers.

"We have strengthened our Nivea core brand and gained market share in many countries. Both the Consumer and Tesa (adhesives) business performed well, in particular in the emerging markets," chief executive Stefan Heidenreich said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, shares in Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever, maker of Dove skincare products, hit an all-time high after growth beat expectations, propelled by strong sales of haircare products and soaps in emerging markets.

Beiersdorf shares hit a new high of 64.74 euros on Thursday and were up 0.3 percent to 64.27 euros at 0855 GMT. Henkel was up 1.2 percent to the top of the Dax index of leading German shares, which was down 0.2 percent.

The Nivea maker did not break down sales figures by region, saying sales at its consumer business fell in western Europe, compared with strong growth in Latin America, Poland, Russia and in its Africa/Asia/Australia region.

In the first nine months, sales at its consumer business in Latin America had risen 15.5 percent, while eastern Europe was up 7.7 percent, against a 2.5 percent decline in western Europe.

Overall, Beiersdorf reported 2012 sales of 6.04 billion euros ($8.0 billion), compared with a forecast for 6.03 billion in a Reuters poll. The consumer business, which makes up 84 percent of sales, saw 4.9 percent growth.

REBRANDING

Beiersdorf, which also makes La Prairie luxury skin cream and Labello lip balm, raised its 2012 sales outlook twice in five weeks at the end of last year, as a strategy to focus on new products and markets produced faster than expected results.

It has also rebranded, now using a single logo across all Nivea products, reflecting the blue Nivea cream tin for which the group is known.

"It is important that we hold our course in the coming years and systematically continue the change process we have started," Heidenreich said.

Beiersdorf said it was on target for an EBIT margin - earnings before interest and tax as a percentage of sales - of around 12 percent for 2012.

Heidenreich wants the consumer division to reach an EBIT margin of 16 percent in the "medium term".

The group will publish full-year results on March 5, when it was also expected to provide an outlook for 2013. ($1 = 0.7530 euro) (Editing by Dan Lalor)