Estee Lauder Rises on Earnings Beat, Issues Lukewarm Guidance

Estee Lauder's second-quarter guidance comes in below Wall Street's expectations.
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Estee Lauder  (EL) - Get Report posted a decline in fiscal first-quarter earnings Monday as the coronavirus pandemic pulled down revenue, but the cosmetics giant still beat Wall Street's expectations.

Shares of the New York-based company were up 5.8% to $232.40 in premarket trading.

Estee Lauder reported net earnings of $523 million, or $1.42 a share, down from $595 million, or $1.61, a year ago. Adjusted earnings were $1.44 a share, beating analysts' calls for 90 cents a share.

Sales totaled $3.56 billion, down 9% from a year ago but ahead of forecasts of $3.46 billion.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, Estee Lauder said it expected adjusted earnings to range from $1.45 to $1.60 a share, which falls short of Wall Street's target of $1.73. 

The company attributed the first-quarter sales decline to the temporary closing of stores and lower foot traffic in open stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. This was partially offset by online sales. 

Skin care sales rose 10% to $2.04 billion, beating targets of $2.04 billion, while makeup sales fell 32% to $978 million and missed the forecast of $1.24 billion.

Fragrance sales fell 12% to $406 million and missed expectations of $408.3 million. Hair care sales were flat at $136 million and exceeded expectations of $124.7 million.

In the Americas, the company said, roughly 20% of the stores were closed at the beginning of July, and by the end of September nearly all retail stores had re-opened.

Online sales comprised more than 35% of total sales in the Americas, with strong double-digit growth.

"The Covid-19-related closures of offices, retail stores and other businesses and the significant decline in social gatherings have also influenced consumer preferences and practices," the company said. "Demand for skin care and hair care products has been more resilient than the demand for makeup and overall fragrance."

The company ended the quarter with $4.27 billion in cash and cash equivalents after repaying $750 million of its $1.50 billion revolving credit facility in August and returning $174 million cash to stockholders through its dividend.

Separately, Estee Lauder said it had increased its quarterly dividend  10% to 53 cents a share.