Estee Lauder 4Q Climbs 72% as Global Demand Expands

Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) nearly doubled its fourth-quarter profit and edged ahead of expectations as strategic initiatives continued to expand its geographic footprint and demand for its biggest brands improved.

The New York-based maker of skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products posted net earnings of $41.1 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with $23.9 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Analyst polled by Thomson Reuters had been expecting just 24 cents. Revenue for the three months ended June 30 was $2.06 billion, up 12% from $1.84 billion a year ago, trumping Wall Street estimates of $2.026 billion.

For the full-year, the company, which operates under brands such as Estee Lauder, Clinique, MAC and Bobbi Brown, earned $700.8 million, or $3.48 a share, missing the Streets view of $3.67. Sales for fiscal 2011 were $8.81 billion, just head of analysts views of $8.78 billion.

Estee Lauder attributed the record performance to success in its largest brands, helped further by a weaker U.S. dollar. The company also posted across-the-board sales gain in its geographic regions and other major product categories.

Fiscal 2011 was an outstanding year for our company, said Estee Leader CEO Fabrizio Freda. We achieved record sales, gross margin, operating margin, earnings per share and operating cash flow.

The companys leader further attributed gains to strategic initiatives intended to improve operating margins through decreased spending. Estee Lauder established market leadership in China in prestige, Freda said.

Looking ahead, the company said it will continent supporting the momentum through higher investment spending and will look to continue gaining global market share while increasing profitability.

Based on that aggressive outlook, the company extended its financial goals with fiscal 2014 and raised its operating margin target between 14.5% and 15%.

For the full year, the company predicts earnings will be in the range of $3.84 to $4.12 a share. Earnings excluding restructuring charges are forecasted to be between $4 and $4.20. Wall Street is predicting earnings of $3.67.