Estee Lauder Swings to Loss on 11% Lower Sales Due to Virus

Cosmetics giant Estee Lauder swung to a fiscal-third-quarter loss on an 11% drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Estee Lauder  (EL) - Get Report on Friday reported a fiscal-third-quarter loss on an 11% drop in sales as the New York cosmetics giant grappled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of Estee Lauder at last check were down nearly 1% to $174.70.

For the quarter ended March 31 Estee Lauder reported a loss of $6 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with earnings of $555 million, or $1.51, in the year-earlier period.

Adjusted earnings came to 85 cents a share, beating the consensus estimate of 74 cents in a FactSet survey of analysts.

The company recorded an impairment charge, tied to the virus outbreak, of $346 million, or 83 cents a share, across Too Faced, Glamglow, Becca, Smashbox and certain of its free-standing stores.

Sales totaled $3.35 billion, down 11% from a year ago but beating FactSet's call for $3.05 billion.

The drop in sales was driven by retail-store closings as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, offset partly by sales from the recent acquisition of Have&Be Co.

"Given the uncertainty around the timing, speed and duration of the recovery from the adverse impacts of Covid-19," Estee Lauder said in a statement, "the company is not providing specific sales and earnings-per-share guidance for the fiscal 2020 fourth quarter and full year."

The company said that as a result of the pandmeic, demand for skin-care and hair-care products has been more resilient than the demand for makeup and fragrance. 

Within skin care, the demand for products in hero franchises has remained strong, driving high-single-digit growth at the Estée Lauder brand during the third quarter of fiscal 2020.

Some of the company's retail stores in northern Asia have been reopening after closing for most of February and March. Most retail stores in southern Asia remain closed. And retail stores in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and in the Americas began closing in early March.

Net sales in mainland China returned to double-digit growth in March, driven mainly by online. As of mid-April, virtually all doors are open in Greater China and Korea. Estee Lauder also reopened its corporate offices in Shanghai. 

Last month, Estee Lauder said it was slashing executive salaries, suspending payment of dividends, issuing notes and borrowing the full amount under its $1.5 billion revolving credit facility in response to the pandemic.