February 9, 2018 / 8:17 AM / a year ago

L'Oreal shares rise after Q4 sales, CEO comments on Nestle's stake

PARIS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Shares in French cosmetics group L’Oreal rose on Friday after its fourth quarter sales beat expectations, with a confident outlook for 2018, while comments regarding its intentions on Nestle further buoyed the stock.

L’Oreal’s chief executive reiterated L’Oreal’s willingness to buy Nestle’s 23 percent stake in the firm should its Swiss shareholder want to sell, also helping lift L’Oreal shares.

L’Oreal shares were up 2 percent in early session trading, the top performer on France’s blue-chip CAC-40 index.

Nestle shares were up 0.5 percent.

“Q4 17 organic sales of 5.5 percent is 50 basis points above Inquiry Financial consensus of 5 percent, strong 2018 outlook,” Liberum analysts wrote in a note, retaining a “hold” rating on L’Oreal shares.

L’Oreal Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Agon said on Thursday he was confident of significant growth in like-for-like sales in 2018. {nL8N1PY80Q]

This was after L’Oreal reported that sales had risen by a better-than-expected 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter on a comparable basis.

“FY 2017 results are reassuring”, added Investec Securities analysts, who kept a “buy” rating on the stock.

“We note CEO Agon’s interview in the Financial Times, reiterating L’Oreal’s willingness to buy Nestle’s 23 percent take.. .Scarcely a surprise, but this may excite some: an acquisition of the stake by L’Oreal, part-funded by a sale of its own Sanofi stake would be circa 10 percent accretive, we think,” the brokerage added. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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