PARIS – L’Oréal’s sales accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2020, bolstered by the group’s Active Cosmetics division and New Markets zone, widely beating analysts’ expectations.

The world’s largest beauty company’s sales in the three months ended Dec. 31 were flat in reported terms and up 4.8 percent on a like-for-like basis.

In the period, the company’s Active Cosmetics division’s revenues increased 20.4 percent in reported terms and 30.7 percent on a like-for-like basis.

Sales in New Markets, which includes the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Africa, Middle East zone, gained 5.6 percent on a reported basis and 13.5 percent in like-for-like terms.

“L’Oréal has traversed this crisis in the best possible condition and has even grown stronger,” said Jean-Paul Agon, the group’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “As anticipated and announced, the group returned to growth in the second half, with a fourth quarter in acceleration, up 4.8 percent, and won significant market shares.”

In full-year 2020, L’Oréal’s sales reached 27.99 billion euros, representing a 6.3 percent decline in reported terms and a 4.1 percent dip on a like-for-like basis.

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Net profits declined 5 percent to 3.57 billion euros, and operating profit was 18.6 percent of sales.

Financial analysts’ consensus pointed to fourth-quarter top-line growth of 2.1 percent on a like-for-like basis, and full-year operating profit margins of 18.6 percent.

“Thanks to its strength in digital and e-commerce, which has again increased considerably during this crisis, L’Oréal has been able to maintain a close relationship with all its consumers and compensate to a large extent for the closure of points of sale,” said Agon. “As a result, sales achieved in e-commerce rose sharply by 62 percent [on a like-for-like basis], across all divisions and all regions, reaching a record level of 26.6 percent of the total group sales for the year.”

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