The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) reported a 16% drop in earnings for the fourth quarter due to higher costs and expenses. The results exceeded analysts’ expectations. Further, the company guided earnings and net sales for the first quarter and fiscal 2020 above the consensus estimates.
Net income decreased by 16% to $157 million or $0.43 per share. Excluding the negative impact of currency translation, the benefit from the adoption of the new revenue recognition accounting standard and other items, earnings increased by 15% to $0.70.
Net sales grew by 9% to $3.59 billion, driven by growth in its international business and nearly all product categories. This includes growth in China and most other emerging markets as well as continued strength at its travel retail and online channels. Net sales in the US improved despite a tough retail environment. Most brands grew globally. Excluding adjustments, net sales increased by 15%.
Looking ahead into the first quarter, the company expects net sales growth in the range of 9% to 10% and earnings in the range of $1.48 to $1.52 per share. Adjusted earnings are anticipated to be in the range of $1.56 to $1.59 per share.
For fiscal 2020, the company predicts net sales growth in the range of 7% to 8% versus the prior-year period, which includes a negligible impact from currency translation. The earnings are predicted to be in the range of $5.62 to $5.74 per share and adjusted earnings are anticipated to be in the range of $5.90 to $5.98 per share.
The company continues to see strong consumer demand for its high-quality products and for the fiscal year expects to grow ahead of the industry and to continue building global share. The company expects global prestige beauty to grow about 6% to 7% during the fiscal year, assuming no additional geopolitical risk materializes.
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For the year 2019, the company achieved strong net sales gains across its business, fueled by investments in strategic priorities, including improved data analytics that helped power innovation and digital marketing. The company ended the year with a strong fourth quarter, largely driven by the same growth engines it had throughout the year. Additionally, the company saw modest improvement in its US business despite a tough retail environment.
Further, in a separate release, the company’s board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.43 per share on its class A and B common stock. The dividend will be paid on September 16, 2019, to stockholders of record on August 30, 2019.