Cosmetics giant L'Oreal SA says that for the first time it made more money in emerging markets last year than western Europe or North America — and that helped push sales and profits up.
The owner of brands including Lancome, Maybelline and Garnier hair products said Monday that it made €2.87 billion ($3.84 billion) in net profit in 2012, up 17 percent from €2.44 billion in 2011.
The company, based in Paris, reported sales of €22.46 billion, up 10 percent from €20.3 billion in 2011 and slightly above the €22.37 billion forecast by analysts surveyed by FactSet.
As many economies in Europe fell back into recession in 2012, the company pushed hard to find new customers in emerging markets. As a result, its "new markets" — which includes Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe — saw more sales than North America or its traditionally core market of western Europe.
The Asia-Pacific region alone saw €4.29 billion in sales in 2012, compared with €5.2 billion in North America and €7.3 billion in western Europe.
CEO Jean-Paul Agon sounded rosy about 2013, hailing the "positive dynamic" in the cosmetics market and pushing his ambition to "conquer a billion new consumers."
While luxury products such as Lancome and Yves Saint Laurent Beaute continued to show good sales in the face of recession, sales of mainstream products also grew.
The company announced dividends of €2.30 per share.
L'Oreal shares fell 0.6 percent on Monday to close at €107.95 in Paris.