Avon profit rises

Women try Avon products in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Feature Photo Service/Handout

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Avon Products Inc AVP.N, the world's biggest direct seller of cosmetics, reported a higher quarterly profit on Tuesday, as strength in emerging and developing markets offset the impact of a weak economy and service problems in North America.

Net income was $184.7 million, or 43 cents per share, in the first quarter that ended on March 31, compared with $150 million, or 34 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Results included $26 million, or 4 cents per share, in costs related to the company’s restructuring.

New York-based Avon has been trying to revive profits with a multiyear plan that includes weeding out less profitable items, overhauling its supply chain and cutting jobs.

The company said it still anticipates annual savings of $430 million once the plan is fully implemented, expected in 2011 or 2012.

Total revenue rose to $2.50 billion from $2.19 billion a year ago.

Avon, whose products include makeup, perfume and anti-aging skin creams, affirmed its 2008 sales outlook, saying it is on track to have full-year sales rise at a mid single-digit percentage rate. Avon also said it expects its 2008 operating margin to “approach” 14 percent.

Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Maureen Bavdek