Avon ( AVP) said first-quarter profit rose 48% on strong European and Latin American operations, and the cosmetics maker said it now expects second-quarter and full-year results will exceed expectations.Avon said late Thursday that earnings for the first quarter rose to $148.1 million, or 62 cents a share, from $98.9 million, or 42 cents a share. (The prior-year results included a charge of about 5 cents to reposition the company's becoming brand to direct selling distribution.) Sales rose 19% to $1.75 billion from $1.47 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected the company to earn 59 cents a share on sales of $1.76 billion. Avon had predicted the 59-cent-a-share profit when it boosted guidance late last month as a result of stronger worldwide operations as well as favorable foreign exchange. Avon said European results continue to benefit from the "stellar" performance in Russia, and the region's exceptional operating margin gain. Latin America also delivered strong results, as the company pointed to its recovery of unit growth in Brazil, one of its larger markets in that region. Sales in Europe rose 38%, and 24% in local currency. In Latin America, sales grew 24% in dollars and 17% in local currency. Avon's U.S. business achieved 7% sales growth, as expected, and is on track to deliver projected full-year sales growth in the mid-single digits. Avon expects second-quarter earnings of 85 cents a share; the current analyst estimate is 84 cents a share. The company anticipates continued double-digit growth in local-currency sales with 1 to 2 points of positive foreign exchange impact as the favorable year-over-year currency benefits experienced in recent quarters begin to subside. Avon expects second-quarter volume growth to be similar to that of the first quarter, with "solid" gains projected in all regions. Operating profit is forecast to increase in the mid-teens range. For all of 2004, Avon now expects to earn "in the range of" $3.30 a share, up from its estimate last month of $3.18 to $3.20 a share and above the $2.78 a share it earned last year. Analysts, on average, were expecting $3.25 a share for the full year.