Estée Lauder Offers Downbeat View

A customer walks through the Estée Lauder display with flight status boards overhead in May at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich. The cosmetics company gave a disappointing outlook for its new business year Friday. ENLARGE
A customer walks through the Estée Lauder display with flight status boards overhead in May at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich. The cosmetics company gave a disappointing outlook for its new business year Friday. Photo: Associated Press

Estée Lauder EL -2.94 % Cos. gave a disappointing outlook for its new business year as the cosmetics company pushes through restructuring plans, grapples with falling foot traffic at many department stores and faces weakness in certain foreign markets.

The full-year view follows quarterly earnings and revenue results that fell short of expectations. Shares fell 3.3% in premarket trading.

For the year ending in June 2017, the company expects to report $ 3.38 to $ 3.44 in per-share profit, excluding restructuring charges. The range is short of the $ 3.53 analysts have projected. Sales will rise 6% to 7%, the company said, translating to roughly $ 12 billion and below the $ 12.8 billion average analyst estimate.

The New York makeup company, which owns higher-end lines including Bobbi Brown, Smashbox and Clinique, set out in May a range of measures it would implement over the next five years to boost profitability. Among the moves, Estée Lauder said it would cut about 2.5% of its global workforce, strengthen its digital business and invest more to grow its makeup brands.

The company has acknowledged shifting consumer preferences in cosmetics and is struggling with a strong U.S. dollar’s effect on pricing in international markets and tourist spending, and it said Friday that social and political instability in countries such as France and in some emerging markets has been an additional headwind.

Meanwhile, Estée Lauder is feeling the heat from a shifting retail landscape. Department stores—where many Estée Lauder counters are found—and other retailers across the spectrum have reported sliding sales as shoppers increasingly opt to buy online and spend less time in stores. Last week, Macy’s Inc. M -0.07 % said it would shut 100 more stores, or 15% of its store base, while Nordstrom Inc. JWN 0.92 % posted its first quarterly sales decline in seven years.

In its latest quarter ended in June, the company said total sales rose 4.8% from a year earlier, to $ 2.65 billion. Analysts were looking for a bigger increase to $ 2.81 billion. A 10% jump in makeup sales paced the increase and offset a 2% decline in its fragrance category.

Over all, Estée Lauder reported a profit of $ 93.5 million, or 25 cents a share, down from $ 153 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring charges and other items, earnings edged up to 43 cents from 40 cents. Analysts predicted an adjusted 48 cents a share.

For the current quarter ending in September, the company said it expects to report 73 cents to 77 cents in adjusted profit per share, well below the $ 1.02 average analyst estimate.

Write to Lisa Beilfuss at [email protected]


WSJ.com: US Business

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