The Estée Lauder Companies Reports Strong Sales and Earnings Growth in Fiscal 2017 Third Quarte

The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.  reported net sales of $2.86 billion for its third quarter ended March 31, 2017, an 8% increase compared with $2.66 billion in the prior-year quarter. Incremental sales from the Company’s recent acquisitions of Too Faced and BECCA contributed approximately half the reported sales growth.

Net earnings increased 12% to $298 million, compared with $265 million last year. Diluted net earnings per common share increased 13% to $.80, including the effect of restructuring and other charges, compared with $.71 in the prior year.

Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales increased 9%. For the quarter, the negative impact of foreign currency translation on diluted net earnings per common share was $.02. Adjusting for restructuring and other charges, diluted net earnings per common share for the three months ended March 31, 2017 were $.91, and in constant currency rose 28% to $.93.

Fabrizio Freda, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We delivered an excellent third quarter performance. Sales accelerated across every geographic region and in our three largest product categories, reflecting the range and strength of our brand portfolio and product offerings. Our business in global travel retail and in China was exceptionally strong, driven by strong sales gains in virtually every brand. Our mid-sized and luxury brands, as well as online and specialtymulti retail channels, also led growth. Additionally, our recent acquisitions of Too Faced and BECCA performed above expectations. These elements contributed to stronger-than-expected constant currency sales growth that, combined with disciplined expense management, resulted in sharply higher earnings per share.

“By further penetrating the specialty-multi channel globally and selectively opening freestanding stores in some key international markets, our brands made great progress reaching new consumers. Our strategy and financial performance continue to be powered by our ability to deploy our diverse brand portfolio into fast-growing channels and consumer segments.

“We will continue to seize opportunities in the most promising areas of prestige beauty and expect our sales growth to continue to accelerate in our fourth quarter, capping another strong fiscal year. In our fiscal fourth quarter, we plan to increase targeted investment spending behind the greatest opportunities to further our momentum into fiscal 2018. We are confident in our ability to achieve our previously stated fiscal 2017 sales growth goal of 6% to 7% in constant currency, which includes approximately 2% of incremental sales from our recent acquisitions. We are also reiterating our constant currency earnings per share growth expectation of 8% to 9%, before charges, which reflects $.07 of dilution related to acquisitions.”

During the fiscal 2017 third quarter, the Company recorded restructuring and other charges of $62 million ($42 million after tax), equal to $.11 per diluted share, in connection with its previously announced Leading Beauty Forward initiative. During the fiscal 2016 third quarter, the Company recorded charges of $15 million ($10 million after tax), equal to $.02 per share, in connection with its initiative to transform its global technology infrastructure.

Net sales and operating income in the Company’s major product categories were unfavorably impacted by the strength of the U.S. dollar in relation to most currencies. Total operating income in constant currency, before charges, increased 25%.

Skin Care

  •  Net sales increased, with sharp double-digit gains from La Mer, driven by the success of new and existing products, as well as targeted expanded consumer reach.
  • The Estée Lauder brand delivered solid sales growth primarily in travel retail and China, due, in part, to gains in the Advanced Night Repair and Revitalizing Supreme lines of products. Strong double-digit sales growth from GLAMGLOW reflected additional product assortments and targeted expanded consumer reach.
  •  These increases were partially offset by lower skin care sales from Clinique. The lower sales reflected sales gains in the Americas being more than offset by lower sales in the other regions.
  • Operating income increased sharply, primarily from Estée Lauder and La Mer, reflecting higher sales. Estée Lauder also benefitted from a favorable comparison to higher spending behind launches in the prior-year period.

Fragrance

  • Net sales increased, primarily due to strong double-digit gains from luxury brands Jo Malone London, Tom Ford and Le Labo, and incremental sales from the recent acquisition of By Kilian.
  • Jo Malone delivered outstanding double-digit sales increases in every region, reflecting strong growth from existing fragrances and brand expansion and the recent launch of Cologne Intense Myrrh & Tonka.
  • Increased sales from Tom Ford reflect, in part, the continued success and growth of existing fragrances, as well as new product launches.
  • Le Labo benefitted from new and existing launches and targeted expanded consumer reach.
  • The recent launches of Tory Burch Love Relentlessly and Michael Kors Wonderlust also contributed to fragrance sales growth.
  • Fragrance operating income increased sharply, primarily due to higher sales from our luxury brands noted above, as well as higher sales of certain designer fragrances

Hair Care

  • Hair care sales decreased slightly, primarily due to a difficult comparison with several product launches in the prior year.
  • Hair care operating income increased, reflecting effective expense management.

Net sales and operating income in the Company’s geographic regions were unfavorably impacted by the strength of the U.S. dollar in relation to most currencies.

The Americas

  •  Sales in North America benefitted from incremental sales from the recent acquisitions of Too Faced and BECCA.
  • Many of the Company’s brands generated sales growth, led by double-digit gains from Tom Ford, Jo Malone, Smashbox and La Mer.
  •  Sales in the Company’s online and specialty-multi channels grew strong double-digits.
  • The growth in these areas was partially offset by sales decreases primarily attributable to the decline in retail traffic in U.S. brick-and-mortar stores, principally for MAC, Estée Lauder and Clinique. A decrease in tourist spending also adversely affected sales in certain U.S. MAC stores.
  • Sales in Canada were flat for the quarter, and in Latin America increased mid-single digits.
  •  Operating income in the Americas decreased, primarily reflecting lower sales at MAC, partially offset by disciplined expense management.

Europe, the Middle East & Africa

  • As reported, most markets recorded sales growth, with many posting double-digit increases, led by Russia, Israel, South Africa, the Balkans and India.
  •  Foreign currency translation reduced reported sales by 3%, with the largest impact from the deterioration of the pound sterling.
  •  In constant currency, sales in the region grew strong double-digits, with most countries generating sales gains. Double-digit growth was posted in several markets, including the Balkans, Central Europe, Israel, Russia and Nordic, as well as strong growth in the U.K. and Italy.
  • In travel retail, exceptionally strong double-digit sales growth was generated across brands, led by Tom Ford, Jo Malone, La Mer, MAC and Estée Lauder. This increase, combined with global airline passenger traffic growth, solid new launch initiatives, and targeted expanded consumer reach, contributed sharply to the sales gains.
  •  In constant currency, lower sales were posted in the Middle East, driven by retailer inventory rebalancing, reflecting the impact of the macro-environment on consumer purchases.
  • Operating income increased, led by strong double-digit operating results in travel retail and the U.K.

Asia/Pacific

  •  On a reported basis and in constant currency, sales increased, led by strong double-digit growth in China. The higher sales in China reflected strong double-digit gains in most brands and in the online, freestanding store and department store channels.
  •  Reported sales in Taiwan also grew double-digits, while in constant currency, Malaysia generated strong sales gains. The Company’s business in Hong Kong continues to stabilize.
  •  Tom Ford, Jo Malone, La Mer and MAC each grew strong double-digits.
  •  These increases were partially offset by slightly lower sales in Indonesia and the Philippines.
  •  In Asia/Pacific, operating income increased, primarily due to higher results in China and Singapore.

Nine-Month Results

  • For the nine months ended March 31, 2017, the Company reported net sales of $8.93 billion, a 4% increase compared with $8.62 billion in the comparable prior-year period. Net earnings were $1.02 billion, compared with $1.02 billion in the same period last year. Diluted net earnings per common share increased 1% to $2.74, including the effect of restructuring and other charges, compared with $2.71 reported in the prior-year period.
  • Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales increased 5%. For the nine months ended March 31, 2017, the negative impact of foreign currency translation on diluted net earnings per common share was $.10. Adjusting for restructuring and other charges, diluted net earnings per common share for the nine months ended March 31, 2017 were $2.97, and in constant currency rose 11% to $3.07.
  •  During the nine-months ended March 31, 2017, the Company recorded restructuring and other charges of $134 million ($88 million after tax), equal to $.24 per diluted share, in connection with its previously announced Leading Beauty Forward initiative.
  • The prior-period nine-month results include charges of $34 million ($22 million after tax), equal to $.06 per share in connection with the Company’s initiative to transform its global technology infrastructure.

Cash Flows from Operating Activities

  •  For the nine months ended March 31, 2017, net cash flows provided by operating activities were $1.25 billion, compared with $1.32 billion in the prior year.
  •  The change primarily resulted from unfavorable changes in certain working capital components.

Outlook for Fiscal 2017 Full Year Global prestige beauty remains a vibrant industry estimated to grow approximately 4% to 5%. There are risks related to social and political issues, terrorism, currency volatility and economic challenges affecting consumer behavior in certain countries. We are also cautious of the decline in retail traffic, primarily related to brick-and-mortar stores and certain tourist-driven doors in the United States. The Company’s annual growth has consistently outpaced global prestige beauty and, despite these global issues, is expected to continue to grow at least one percentage point ahead of the industry for the fiscal year, which is our strategic goal.

The Company expects sales growth to continue to progressively accelerate during its fiscal fourth quarter driven by strong innovation programs, greater outreach to target consumers for our fastgrowing brands in winning channels, regular price increases, organic growth, easier comparisons in certain markets, improvement in Hong Kong, and accelerating incremental sales from recent acquisitions.

Full Year Fiscal 2017

  • Net sales are forecasted to increase between 4% and 5% versus the prior-year period.
  • Foreign currency translation is expected to negatively impact sales by approximately 2% versus the prior-year period.
  •  Net sales are forecasted to grow between 6% and 7% in constant currency.
  •  The Company’s recent acquisitions of Too Faced and BECCA are forecasted to contribute approximately 2 percentage points to the Company’s overall sales growth. These acquisitions are estimated to dilute earnings per share by approximately $.07.
  •  Reported diluted net earnings per share are projected to be between $3.02 and $3.09.
  •  The Company expects to take charges associated with previously approved restructuring and other activities in fiscal 2017 of approximately $160 million to $170 million, equal to $.28 to $.30 per diluted common share.
  •  Diluted net earnings per share before charges associated with restructuring and other activities are projected to be between $3.32 and $3.37.
  • The negative currency impact on the sales growth equates to about $.13 of earnings per share. On a constant currency basis, before charges associated with restructuring and other activities, diluted earnings per share are expected to increase between 8% and 9%.

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