* Q1 EBIT up 9 pct to 235 mln euros vs f'cast 235 mln
* Sales up 6.7 percent excluding currency effects
* Reaffirms year sales and profit forecast
* Shares down 1 pct after touching 2-month high
(Adds detail, background, ceo, analysts)
By Kirsti Knolle
FRANKFURT, May 8 Nivea skin cream maker
Beiersdorf AG reported a forecast-beating 9 percent
rise in first-quarter operating profit on Thursday, helped by
strong demand for its skin care products in Asia and its
In the three months through March, earnings before interest
and tax (EBIT) increased to 235 million euros ($327 million),
ahead of the average forecast of 224 million in a Reuters poll
Beiersdorf has stripped out underperforming lines to focus
on its main skin care brands, which also include Eucerin and La
Prairie, as well as focusing on new products at its glues
division. The strategy has helped it gain market share and boost
The German company's consumer division, which accounts for
about 80 percent of group sales and includes its skin and
hair-care brands, saw 17.5 percent sales growth in the combined
Africa, Asia and Australia region.
In China, a market where Beiersdorf lost millions in recent
years, the group broke even in the first quarter, Chief
Executive Stefan Heidenreich said.
Group quarterly sales were curbed by the strong euro, edging
1.2 percent higher to 1.60 billion euros, the company said, but
excluding currency effects, sales increased 6.7 percent.
In consumer products, currency-adjusted sales grew 6.3
percent to 1.32 billion euros.
That was higher than growth rates posted by rivals Unilever
, L'Oreal and Henkel, said UBS
analyst Eva Quiroga.
"What is not quite that good is its (regional) composition,
as Europe remains a drag at a time when L'Oreal's momentum is
improving," Quiroga wrote in a note to clients, referring to
just 0.9 percent sales growth in western Europe.
Beiersdorf forecast an improvement in the second quarter.
"Western Europe will come back to strength very shortly,"
Heidenreich said on a conference call.
Consumer sales in North America increased 7.5 percent as
Beiersdorf benefited from a strategy change towards more skin
products designed to ease the effect of cold weather,
At the company's Tesa unit, which makes industrial adhesives
used in cars, smartphones and tablet computers, adjusted sales
increased 8.7 percent to 273 million euros.
Beiersdorf maintained its forecast for full-year sales to
rise by between 4 and 6 percent from last year's 6.14 billion
euros and for its EBIT profit margin to be slightly above the
2013 level of 13.2 percent.
The shares initially spiked to a two-month high of 72.91
euros but backtracked to be down 1.1 percent at 71.87 euros by
1214 GMT, with traders saying the market had already priced in
the company's brighter prospects.
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Greg Mahlich and David