Why Avon Products, Inc. Shares Crumbled

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Avon Products  (NYSE: AVP  ) weren't looking their best today, falling as much as 13% and finishing down 10% after reporting first-quarter earnings and saying it would pay a $135 million bribery charge.

So what: The beauty products maker posted underwhelming results as sales declined 11% to $2.18 billion, missing estimates at $2.24 billion, while adjusted earnings per share fell from $0.26 a year ago to $0.12, also below expectations at $0.20. In addition, Avon said it would pay $135 million to the Justice Department and SEC for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, related to a subsidiary in China, ending a years-long investigation. 

Now what: The drop for the multi-level marketer comes at a time when peers like Nu Skin Enterprises have been accused of being a pyramid scheme in China with shares coming under significant pressure. Still, industry weakness does not seem to explain the company's current problems as Avon shares have been falling for some time now and hit their lowest point since March 2000 on today's news. Nearly every component of the business has been in retreat as sales fell in all of its regions, and the company saw a 4% drop in direct sales representatives, on whom the success of the business depends. Until those numbers start moving in the right direction, Avon looks like a no-go.

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