PARIS, France — L'Oréal, the world's biggest beauty products company, said demand for its luxury labels like Lancôme helped lift sales growth in the fourth quarter, while strong appetite from Asian consumers offset a trickier US market.
Make-up labels around the world are tapping into booming demand from young consumers and a growing Chinese clientele, while demand for premium skin or hair care products is also expanding, boosting L'Oréal rivals like Estée Lauder too.
L'Oréal — which makes mass market shampoo brands like Garnier and high-end cosmetics and fragrances for Armani and Yves Saint Laurent — said like-for-like sales, which exclude currency swings and acquisitions or disposals, rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier in the last three months of 2017.
That was a touch above the 5 percent expected by analysts polled by Inquiry Financial for Reuters, and an improvement on the 5.1 percent growth recorded a quarter earlier.
On a reported basis, sales were down 4.1 percent to €6.5 billion ($7.96 billion), hit in part by a strong euro.
L'Oréal chairman and chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said in a statement that in 2018 the cosmetics industry should remain dynamic.
Operating profitability, which reached a record 18 percent in 2017, should increase again, while L'Oréal was confident like-for-like sales would "achieve significant growth," Agon added.
L'Oréal's operating income grew 3 percent to €4.7 billion in 2017.
For 2017 as a whole, revenue reached €26 billion, up 4.8 percent like-for-like, against 4.7 percent growth in 2016.
By Sarah White; editor: Adrian Croft.