Despite a value-conscious branding effort that should presumably resonate in troubled times, Avon Products ( AVP) became one of the few cosmetic companies to miss Wall Street's quarterly expectations when it announced its earnings today. The company reported a 36% decline in first-quarter earnings to $117.3 million, or 27 cents per share, from $184.7 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings of 33 cents a share. Results included a 2 cent-a-share restructuring charge. Revenue fell 13% to $2.18 billion, hurt by restructuring costs and the stronger dollar, which cut into international sales. Avon has a strong presence overseas. On the plus side, Avon's active representatives have grown 7% in the quarter, as more people are on the hunt to make extra cash. Avon announced that it is embarking on a restructuring plan that includes salary freezes, job cuts and moving some jobs overseas to cut costs. Avon also said it is making a more conscious effort to offer lower-priced items as consumers trade down on beauty care. "We are offering consumers an increased assortment of 'smart value' products -- great quality products at affordable price points -- which contributed to beauty unit growth of 2% in the quarter," Chief Executive Andrea Jung said in a statement. On Monday, rival Estee Lauder ( EL) surprised investors with robust earnings, buoyed by strong sales in Asia. Revlon ( REV) and Bare Escentuals ( BARE) also beat expectations last week. Revlon reported a profit of $12.7 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $2.5 million, or 5 cents, in the year-ago quarter, while Bare Escentuals surpassed analysts' expectations by 4 cents.
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