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Bath & Body Works Helps Propel L Brands' Earnings and Stock

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Selling soap and hand sanitizer is proving to be a lucrative business in the pandemic.

Shares of L Brands (LB) - Get Report surged on Thursday after the owner of Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret swung to a third-quarter profit, highlighted by a 55% jump in sales of personal-hygiene products including soap and hand sanitizer.

L Brands posted earnings of $330.6 million, or $1.17 a share, vs. a loss of $252 million, or 91 cents a share, in the comparable year-ago quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of 12 cents a share.

Sales were $3.06 billion in the quarter ended Oct. 31, well above analysts' forecasts of $2.7 billion, driven in large part by surging e-commerce sales at both Bath & Body Works and at Victoria's Secret, it's other big-name brand.

Personal-hygiene products such as hand sanitizers and soaps boosted Bath & Body Works sales to $1.7 billion. Victoria's Secret, meanwhile, had higher sales in sleepwear and loungewear thanks to pandemic-driven demand for "nesting" apparel, though total sales fell 14% to $1.35 billion. 

L Brands had been struggling with its Victoria's Secret brand even before the pandemic struck. The company in February cut a $525 million deal to sell the brand to private-equity firm Sycamore Partners, just weeks before the pandemic struck.

Sycamore in April sued to halt the deal. L Brands called off the deal in early May, prompting longtime L Brands head Les Wexner to step down as CEO. 

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