What: Shares of Avon Products (AVP) rose as much as 14.3% early Thursday, then settled to trade up around 8% as of 3:00 p.m. EST after the cosmetics specialist reaffirmed its full-year 2015 outlook. Avon shareholder Cerberus Capital Management also defended its nearly 17% stake in the company, insisting Avon has no liquidity concerns and is "significantly undervalued."
So what: Excluding its soon-to-be-separated North American business, Avon continues to anticipate full-year 2015 reported revenue to decline 19%, to roughly $6 billion. On a constant-currency basis, Avon's revenue would have grown 2%, including a negative one-point impact from its previous divestiture of Liz Earle. Avon also expects to report 1% full-year growth in active representatives, and outlined an ambitious plan to cut $350 million in annual operating expenses during the next three years, all while investing roughly the same amount in revitalizing growth.
Now what: Meanwhile, Cerberus managing director Steven Mayer noted its previously announced deal with Avon is on pace to close this spring. Last month, Cerberus not only agreed to pay $170 million for an 80% stake in Avon's North American business -- which it will then take private -- but also to invest $435 million for a 17% stake in Avon itself. Mayer also assured there are "zero concerns, about liquidity" at Avon, helping ease long-standing concerns as Avon's business has floundered in recent quarters.
Avon isn't entirely out of the woods, especially given the antagonist role that macroeconomic headwinds are likely to play with its international business going forward. While I can't blame the market for bidding shares up today with the encouraging updates, I'm still content watching Avon's progress from the sidelines.