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Estee Lauder

(EL) - Get Estee Lauder Companies Inc. Class A Report

posted rosy first-quarter earnings Wednesday, boosted by strong sales from its travel retail business in Europe.

The beauty products purveyor said its earnings rose 23% to $95 million, or 41 cents a share, from $77 million, or 33 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Last year's results include a loss of $700,000, or 1 cent a share, from the sale of the unit that sold name-brand products.

The results beat consensus estimates on Wall Street that called for earnings of 37 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call. Shares of Estee Lauder were climbing 65 cents, or 1.5%, to $43 in premarket trading after the release.

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"Our entrance into fiscal 2005 with strong double-digit top- and bottom-line growth sets the stage and gives us confidence that we are on our way to achieving our previously stated full-year financial objectives," the company said in a statement.

For 2005, it expects earnings of $1.88 to $1.93 a share on sales up 7% to 8% from 2004.

Revenue was up 12% for the quarter to $1.5 billion from $1.35 billion last year. Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales rose 9%.

Quarterly sales in the Americas rose 4% to $888.2 million, while sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose 29% to $423.8 million. Asia/Pacific sales increased 15% to $192.1 million.

Net sales of skin care products for the quarter increased 13% to $524.3 million, while makeup sales for the quarter rose 23% to $599.5 million. Fragrance sales dipped 6% to $311.7 million, and sales of hair care products rose 15% to $63.1 million.

Also, the company's board increased the annual dividend to 40 cents a share from 30 cents, payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record Dec. 10.