Beiersdorf shares decline after downbeat management comments

BERLIN (Reuters) - Shares in Nivea maker Beiersdorf BEIG.DE fell on Wednesday as the German consumer goods firm said it was cautious about the fourth quarter and its medium-term targets despite strong third-quarter sales for its skincare brands and adhesives unit.

FILE PHOTO: Nivea tins are seen in a production line at the plant of German personal-care company Beiersdorf in Hamburg, Germany March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Consumers are likely to reduce shopping again as lockdowns are reimposed to stem the spread of coronavirus, said Chief Executive Stefan de Loecker, adding that the fourth quarter is unlikely to be better than the third.

The Hamburg-based company is not in a position to reaffirm its medium-term margin targets, finance chief Dessi Temperley told analysts. De Locker said Beiersdorf was sticking to its “Care+” strategy and planned investments.

Beiersdorf shares were down 6.3% at 93.80 euros by 1122 GMT, underperforming a 3.2% weaker German blue-chip index .GDAXI.

It reported sales for the first nine months at 5.7 billion euros ($6.74 billion), down 7.1% after stripping out the impact of acquisitions and currency movements, although third-quarter organic growth was 0.2%, the company said.

“Q3 organic growth came in much better than we or the market expected with better results in both the consumer and Tesa divisions. Full-year guidance was reinstated implying flat growth in Q4,” Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

The Nivea brand grew 0.5% in the quarter due to high demand for shower and personal care products, though this excluded the sun care business which has been hit by a decline in tourism.

The Eucerin and Aquaphor skincare brands grew 15.5% in the quarter, while the premium La Prairie brand - which makes a large part of its sales in travel retail, such as airport terminal stores - stemmed its decline, although sales were still down 17%.

Sales at the Tesa adhesives unit rose 6.2%, helped by a rebound in the electronics business in Asia, even as the automotive sector continued to decline.

Beiersdorf said it expects a fall in full-year sales at the rate already seen so far this year, or slightly better, while the operating profit margin should come in significantly below the level seen in 2019.

Reporting by Thomas Seythal and Emma Thomasson; Editing by Michelle Adair and Mike Harrison