L'Oreal sales growth slumps to lowest since 2009

L'Oreal mascara Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Comestics leader L'Oreal reports weak sales growth for its popular consumer products

French cosmetics giant L'Oreal saw its sales growth in the third quarter fall to the lowest level since 2009.

Its like-for-like sales growth was 2.3%, compared to 4.1% in the previous three months.

The world's largest cosmetics company also missed market expectations of 3.6% sales growth in the July to September period.

L'Oreal said the slump was due to weak sales for its mass-market products, mainly in Western Europe.

"L'Oreal recorded low growth because of a slight contraction in the consumer products division, as the mass market hit an air pocket in Western Europe," chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said in a statement.

He does, however, expect sales to pick up the fourth quarter for the maker of brands like Lancome, thanks to gains since the end of the summer season.

"All in all, 2014 should be another year of improved economic performance for L'Oreal, with the group slightly outperforming the worldwide cosmetics market, improving operating profitability, and increasing its net earnings per share," Mr Agon said.

News of L'Oreal missing earnings expectations comes on the same day that US ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its company ratings on beauty products company Avon to junk status.

The firm cut Avon's rating to double-B plus, one notch below investment grade on weak earnings and slow progress in improving its business.

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