(Adds further details, analyst's comment)
By Astrid Wendlandt
PARIS, July 31 French cosmetics giant L'Oreal
reported a 4.1 percent rise in second-quarter
comparable sales on Thursday, slightly below expectations, and
said growth at its consumer goods division was held up by
sluggish demand in the United States.
L'Oreal, whose brands include Lancome creams and Yves Saint
Laurent perfumes, saw revenue drop 0.7 percent on a reported
basis in the second quarter.
The consensus market forecast for the group's second-quarter
like-for-like sales growth was 4.3 percent.
L'Oreal said growth at its consumer products unit that makes
Garnier shampoo and L'Oreal cream, was "held back by a sluggish
American market and, to a certain extent, by a slowdown in the
new markets, but remains solid in Western Europe."
L'Oreal management is expected to provide more details about
current trading at a conference call on Friday at 0700 GMT.
The group said its consumer products unit was well
positioned to benefit from a gradual improvement in European
markets even though second-quarter revenue fell 2.8 percent on a
The strongest division within the group was luxury with
like-for-like sales up 7.5 percent in the second quarter, while
the group's active cosmetics division saw growth of 7.4 percent,
down from 8.7 percent in the previous three months.
Last month L'Oreal's chief executive Jean-Paul Agon told
Reuters in an interview that he expected the group's active
cosmetics unit - the maker of La Roche Posay creams - to be its
biggest engine of growth in the years to come and flagged
weakness in America.
L'Oreal's operating margin widened to 18.2 percent in the
first half from 17.9 percent in the same period last year. Net
earnings per share rose 7.5 percent to 3.17 euros.
"This is a pretty uneventful set of results as the numbers
throughout the profit and loss account are in line with
expectations," one London-based analyst said.
(Editing by James Regan and Greg Mahlich)