BEAUTY CARE

Bare Escentuals posts solid Q4 results

BY Antoinette Alexander

SAN FRANCISCO Bare Escentuals, a maker of mineral make up, posted solid fourth quarter results and expects to continue its momentum in 2008 by expanding its product offering and access to products both domestically and abroad.

“Bare Escentuals produced a solid quarter in an exceptionally difficult retail environment, demonstrating the strength of its brand and the loyalty of its customer base,” stated SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell in a research note.

Net income for the quarter totaled to $27 million, or 29 cents per diluted share, compared with $16.3 million, or 18 cents per share in the year-ago period. The current quarter’s earnings per share exceeded analyst expectations by one penny and were two cents above the Street mean.

Sales for the quarter were $144.6 million, up about 31 percent from $110.5 million in the year-ago period.

For fiscal 2008, the company reaffirmed its guidance of sales growth of between 20 percent and 25 percent and diluted earnings per share of between $1.13 and $1.18.

“We note that the company did, however, raise its expected door count from 750 to 780 by the end of 2008 as several initiatives are running ahead of schedule. We are maintaining our 2008 estimate of $1.19 as we believe the guidance is overly conservative. Additionally, we are maintaining our 2009 estimate of $1.48,” added Chappell.

Among the new initiatives: The beauty company will be testing in 10 department stores in the U.K. with four different retailers. Testing is expected to begin in the spring. Chappell believes that similar testing will be the norm for the company going forward as it looks to expand its presence in markets such as Japan, Germany and France.

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SkinFree announces availability at CVS.com

BY Antoinette Alexander

SHIPMAN, Va. Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio’s line of SkinFree Products for people with eczema, allergies and other skin issues, is now available at CVS.com, according the skin care company.

The products are also sold at CVS stores in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.

“Working in a typical retail pharmacy setting, I was constantly asked for recommendations from customers for products that are safe for difficult skin problems, especially by those with fragrance allergies,” said company founder Julie Hilton, who has more than 30 years experience in compounding and developing natural skin care. “I recognized a void in the market through this experience and knew that I could create effective and affordable products for common skin issues.”

SkinFree Products are all-natural and contain no perfumes, petroleum products, harmful chemicals, steroids or colorants. The products are created using naturally occurring vegetable oils and butters that have nutrients, antioxidants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and antibacterial agents.

Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio promotes the skin care line primarily through doctor’s offices, media and word of mouth. Free products have been distributed to hospital clinics and dialysis centers throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

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P&G to trim its staff by 15 percent

BY Antoinette Alexander

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble is looking to bolster productivity and drive growth by trimming about 15 percent of its staff at the general manager level and above, according to published reports.

The company, whose brands include Crest and Pantene, was reported as saying that many of the job cuts will come through attrition as associates retire or leave the company.

P&G is also working to reduce by half the number of distribution centers it operates globally. According to reports, it has shuttered more than 200 of its 571 distribution centers so far, and expects to close another 70 by the end of 2009.

P&G also is eliminating duplication between organizations.

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