Estee Lauder forecasts weak profit as demand slows in Europe, China

Wed Feb 5, 2014 11:52am EST

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Beauty products company Estee Lauder Cos Inc forecast current-quarter profit below analysts' estimate, citing weak demand in European countries and South Korea and slowing growth in China.

Estee Lauder shares fell as much as 8 percent in early trading after the company also reported second-quarter sales below estimates.

New York-based Estee Lauder forecast third-quarter sales growth of 10-11 percent, which translates to about $2.52 billion-$2.54 billion.

The company, known for its Estee Lauder, Clinique and MAC brands, said it expects earnings of 52-55 cents per share.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 63 cents per share on revenue of $2.50 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Initial third-quarter guidance appears a bit light," Oppenheimer & Co analyst Joseph Altobello wrote in a note to clients.

Estee Lauder said net income fell to $432.5 million, or $1.09 per share, in the second quarter ended Dec. 31, from $447.5 million, or $1.13 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, the company earned $1.09 per share, slightly above the average analyst estimate of $1.06.

Total sales rose 3 percent to $3.02 billion, but fell short of the average analyst estimate of $3.05 billion.

Separately, rival Elizabeth Arden Inc posted a 13 percent decline in North America sales in its second quarter, hurt by weaker-than-expected holiday retail sales and replenishment orders.

Elizabeth Arden's shares fell 7 percent to $23.85 on the Nasdaq.

Estee Lauder shares were down 5 percent at $65.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalore)