×

UPDATE 1-Luxury cosmetics lift L'Oreal sales growth in fourth quarter

(Adds details, quote)

PARIS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - L'Oreal, the world's biggest beauty products company, said demand for its luxury labels like Lancome helped lift sales growth in the fourth quarter, while strong appetite from Asian consumers offset a trickier U.S. market.

Make-up labels around the world are tapping into booming demand from young consumers and a growing Chinese clientele, while demand for premium skin or hair care products is also expanding, boosting L'Oreal rivals like Estee Lauder too.

L'Oreal - which makes mass market shampoo brands like Garnier and high-end cosmetics and fragrances for Armani and Yves Saint Laurent - said like-for-like sales, which exclude currency swings and acquisitions or disposals, rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier in the last three months of 2017.

That was a touch above the 5 percent expected by analysts polled by Inquiry Financial for Reuters, and an improvement on the 5.1 percent growth recorded a quarter earlier.

On a reported basis, sales were down 4.1 percent to 6.5 billion euros ($7.96 billion), hit in part by a strong euro.

L'Oreal Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon said in a statement that in 2018 the cosmetics industry should remain dynamic.

Operating profitability, which reached a record 18 percent in 2017, should increase again, while L'Oreal was confident like-for-like sales would "achieve significant growth", Agon added.

L'Oreal's operating income grew 3 percent to 4.7 billion euros in 2017.

For 2017 as a whole, revenue reached 26 billion euros, up 4.8 percent like-for-like, against 4.7 percent growth in 2016. ($1 = 0.8170 euros) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Adrian Croft)