UPDATE 1-Est+¬e Lauder profit rises on U.S., China strength
Feb 5 (Reuters) - Estée Lauder Cos Inc reported higher quarterly sales and earnings on Tuesday and affirmed its full-year forecast for sales growth, pointing to strong U.S. and China demand that is counteracting weak markets like Southern Europe and South Korea.
Sales in the second quarter ended on Dec. 31 rose 7.1 percent to $2.93 billion, with gains in every region, including Europe, where sales in France and Switzerland returned to growth.
In Asia, for now still the company's smallest market, sales were up 11 percent, with China and Hong Kong leading the way.
Chief Executive Officer Fabrizio Freda said in a statement that he expected continued growth in the United States, where sales to department stores such as Saks Inc and Neiman Marcus were strong, as well as in several key emerging markets and on its e-commerce sites.
The company, known for its namesake brand as well as lines such as La Mer and MAC, still anticipates sales growth this year of 6 percent to 7 percent in local currency terms, although it expects third-quarter sales to increase 3 percent to 4 percent.
That appeared to reassure investors after Estée Lauder in November had scaled back its forecast because of a weak European market and after revenue grew a modest 2.9 percent in the first quarter.
The company's shares rose 2.6 percent to $62.65 in premarket trading.
Skin care showed the largest gains, as the company got a boost from the launch of products such as a La Mer moisturizer. Fragrances, often a laggard for the company, benefited from new launches of products from designer Tom Ford.
Estée Lauder reported net income of $447.5 million, or $1.13 a share, for the quarter, up from $396.7 million, or $1.00 a share, a year earlier.
The company now expects a profit of $2.51 to $2.59 per share for the year, up from an earlier range of $2.47 to $2.56.