August 2, 2018 / 11:36 AM / 13 days ago

Avon posts surprise loss as Brazil truck strike bites, shares fall

(Reuters) - Cosmetics maker Avon Products Inc reported a surprise quarterly loss on Thursday, hurt by a truckers’ strike in Brazil that delayed shipments, and the company signed up fewer sales representatives, sending its shares down 10 percent.

Sales in south Latin America, which includes Brazil, fell 8 percent to $516.1 million (£395.2 million) in the second quarter. Brazil’s economy was paralysed by an 11-day strike in May over soaring diesel fuel prices.

Active Representatives, or sales representatives who go door-to-door direct-selling Avon’s cosmetics and creams, declined 4 percent for the second straight quarter.

Chief Executive Jan Zijderveld has been trying to turn around the iconic cosmetics brand that has faced a number of issues, including declining sales and shareholder pressure, in the recent past. The stock that traded above $10 less than four years ago is now worth a tenth of that.

Zijderveld plans to boost the productivity of its sales representatives through enhanced training and new sales incentives programs. The company also plans to improve service and systems for forecasting sales.

The CEO recently shuffled the company’s management, appointing a new chief digital officer and three new general managers in its top markets.

However, disappointing second-quarter results show his efforts to right the company still have a long way to go.

“We are not yet satisfied with the overall operating results of the quarter,” Zijderveld said in a statement.

Net loss attributable to the company narrowed to $36.1 million, or 9 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, from $45.5 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusting for one-time items, net loss was $7.8 million, compared with the average analyst estimate of $3.29 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Avon reported a loss of 3 cents per adjusted share, missing analysts’ average estimate of breakeven.

Total revenue fell 3 percent to $1.35 billion, and also missed analysts’ estimate of $1.39 billion.

Reporting by Jaslein Mahil in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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