Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Estee Lauder had a beautiful holiday season

January 21, 2010

Fabrizio FredaCheck out Estee Lauder’s much better-than-expected end to 2009.

The cosmetics maker said fiscal second-quarter results, due next week, will fly past its forecast and Wall Street’s predictions.  Sound familiar?  That’s because the company did the same thing back in October, before it released results for the first quarter of its fiscal year.

Analysts noticed the similarity.  JP Morgan’s John Faucher entitled his research note “Deja Vu” and many said with the stock’s nice run already (up about 56 percent in 2009), big gains from here are likely limited.

In the latest quarter, U.S. holiday season sales came in better than anticipated.  So did sales in Asia and at airports.  Another big benefit came from spending cutbacks.  Don’t expect such frugality during the second half of the fiscal year.  Estee Lauder, led by CEO Fabrizio Freda (seen here), said it would step up investment behind its brands and key priorities “well above” first-half levels.

Does the company’s optimism mean that beauty is back for good?  Or was it just a holiday gift?  We’ll find out more when Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden issue their results on Jan. 28 and Avon follows in early February.

Also in the basket:

Starbucks heads into Europe’s ready-to-drink coffee market

Cadbury UK investors see Kraft deal despite Buffett

Burger King Franchisees Can’t Have It Their Way (Wall Street Journal)

(Reuters photo)

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