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Investment Overview for Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL)
Estee Lauder's Q1 fiscal 2017 (fiscal year ends in June) net sales and EPS both grew by around 2% and 5% year-on-year, respectively (on a constant currency basis). The strongest performing brands for the quarter were some of its small and midsized luxury brands. It is noteworthy to mention here that Estee Lauder follows a trend of acquiring small and innovative brands and then expanding their reach and customer base. Recently, it acquired Becca Cosmetics which is known for its makeup products including foundations, primers, and highlighters. Estee Lauder witnessed significant success in the European markets, digital channels, specialty multi, and the travel retail channels. The growth was partly dampened by the bleak economic conditions in certain geographies. The other reasons for the company's slow growth were the persistent setbacks in the U.S. mid-tier department stores due to lower traffic, economic slowdown in the Middle Eastern region, difficult comparison in France and Germany, and a persistent negative trend in Hong Kong. However, these challenges were already taken into account by the management and plans are afoot to slowly grow sales in order to fulfill the full fiscal year's growth expectations. The company's growth plans include taking advantage of its stronger products, regions, and channels to boost further growth. It also has a robust growth plan for the upcoming holiday season along with a fresh set of products in the pipeline.
Though the company faced both macroeconomic and microeconomic challenges throughout fiscal 2016, it successfully addressed those to deliver growth above the industry level. Estee Lauder's focus on generating a greater millennial user base, as well as its digital initiatives, along with its adapting to changing demand, were some of the factors that drove the company's growth. In fiscal 2016, Estee Lauder's net sales grew by 9% year-on-year on a constant currency basis. We expect Estee Lauder to continue ruling the prestige beauty market in the near future.
In FY 2016, the new products comprised of almost a quarter of its total sales marking a record high contribution. The company introduced Leading Beauty Forward — a multi-year initiative to improve efficiency, speed of market adaptability, and agility. The top growth contributor for FY 2016 was the Makeup category especially attributed by the MAC brand, the luxury brands, the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, and the online and specialty multi channels.
The two most important growth drivers for Estee Lauder were its agility and its multiple engines of growth. When the company witnessed unexpected crises in certain markets, it channeled resources to other areas with better growth opportunities. Its strength lies across 25 brands based on categories, channels, and countries which allowed the achievement of double-digit growth in some brands, channels, or markets, while balancing lower growth in other areas. For example, when Hong Kong's political unrest resulted in a dearth of incoming Chinese tourists, the brands appealing to Chinese customers started targeting the alternative key tourist attractions frequented by the Chinese.
Estee Lauder's digital and e-commerce focus have increased over the year resulting in it becoming the fastest growth channel for the company. The e-commerce and m-commerce sales exceeded $1 billion in FY 2016. The company's millennial focused initiatives yielded positive results with brands like Jo Malone, Tom Ford, Smashbox, MAC, and La Mer driving growth. In fiscal 2017, the company's broad target will be two areas: 1. expanding its reach among target users and enhancing the level of customer engagement through tools like digital marketing, in-store merchandising, creativity, and omni-channel offerings.
- Acquisitions will help fuel growth
- Estee Lauder announced a string of acquisitions in the span of two months between October and December, 2014. The company’s last acquisition prior to these was in May 2010, when it acquired Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics. The acquisitions are: GLAMGLOW, a prestige skincare brand specializing in facial mask treatments, Le Labo, the high-end fragrance and sensory lifestyle brand, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, the storied fragrance brand established by the iconic perfumer Frédéric Malle, and RODIN olio lusso, a luxury skin care brand, offering a selection of luxury skincare oils.
- Luxury brands are a key growth driver for the company: its luxury brands like La Mer, Jo Malone, and Tom Ford have been delivering double digit growth for several years. Hence, the recent acquisitions, of all premium and luxury brands, are best seen in this light.
- Skincare is the most important segment in Estee Lauder's portfolio. Consumers are currently demanding products such as masks and oils beyond the traditional skincare formulations like moisturizers and serums. Estee Lauder possesses a strong research and development arm. The recent acquisitions in the beautifying mask and oil-based treatment categories might satisfy the changing demands.
- Partnership With South Korean Dr. Jart+
- In October 2015, Estee Lauder bought a stake in Have & Be Co. Ltd., the South Korean company which owns skin care brands such as Dr. Jart+ and Do The Right Thing. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The company aims to build a strong presence in the local beauty market through these alliances. It also wants to introduce the Korean innovative beauty products into its portfolio of offerings to complement novelty with its own brand appeal. The company plans to bolster its long-term growth strategy in Asia through this move.
- Travel retail focus
- In October 2015, Estee Lauder launched a vast array of products under several brands including Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone, Tom Ford, and M.A.C., at the Tax-Free World Association (TFWA) Exhibition, held at Cannes in October. The products include face contouring, eye makeup, lipstick, serums, treatment creams, and fragrances. These new products will be available across Estee Lauder's travel retail channel.
- Estee Lauder’s travel retail has been lagging behind over the past few quarters. Travel retail is one of the biggest revenue generators for the company. The company, having witnessed double-digit growth through this channel, is recently lagging behind on account of macroeconomic slowdowns in different parts of the world, especially in China – one of its top markets for travel retail. Estee Lauder’s management spoke about these issues as temporary hindrances and believes that the travel retail channel will bounce back very soon. The new product launches can further help the channel to revive sales growth.
- Strategic Modernization Initiative (SMI) might help improve margins
- During fiscal year 2014, Estée Lauder has eliminated more than $800 million in costs through the implementation of the Strategic Modernization Initiative (SMI). These cost-savings from the SMI initiative helped improve margin performance through higher investments into business-driving activities such as advertising, resulting in operating margins expanding approximately 1.7 percentage points between FY13 and FY14.
Estee Lauder's Skin Care Market Share: Estee Lauder's Skin Care Market Share expanded from 6.6% in 2008 to 8% in 2014. However, its share declined to ~7% in 2015, partly due to cannibalization of its older products, and partly due to a shift in order realizations following its SMI implementation. However, we currently forecast Estee Lauder's skin care product market share to decline marginally in the short term before beginning to grow its market share and reach over 6% by the end of our forecast period. There could be a marginal downside of less than 5% to our price estimate, if the market share were to remain flat throughout the forecast horizon.
Estee Lauder's Skin Care EBITDA margin: Estee Lauder's Skin Care EBITDA Margin increased from 20% in 2008 to 26.2% in 2012, before declining to 25.7% in 2013. The EBITDA margin grew to ~27% in 2014 and remained at almost the same level in 2015. We expect margins to remain near 28% by end of our forecast period. There could be almost 15% downside to our price estimate, if margins were to decline to the 2008 levels of 20% over our forecast period.
Estee Lauder's Makeup Market Share: We currently forecast Estee Lauder to gain share in the global makeup market from 12.5% in 2015 to reach almost 14% by the end of our forecast period. There could be a marginal downside if Estee Lauder fails to gain market share over our forecast period.
Estee Lauder's Makeup EBITDA margin: Estee Lauder's Makeup EBITDA Margin increased from 19% in 2008, to 24% in 2015, and we expect it to gradually increase to 25% going forward. There could be close to 10% downside to our price estimate if margins were to decline to the 2008 levels of 19%.
Estee Lauder manufactures and markets premium makeup, skin care, fragrance, and hair care products in the personal and beauty care segment of the market. Estee Lauder's main competitors consist of cosmetics companies such as L’Oreal, Shiseido Company, LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton, Revlon, Coty, and Procter & Gamble Company.
Estee Lauder's major brands include Estee Lauder, Aramis, Clinique, M-A-C, Bobbi Brown, La Mer, and Aveda, along with fragrance and cosmetics sold under brands such as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Micheal Kors, and Sean John.
Premium priced products that are not branded, yet relatively expensive, are sold through limited distribution channels consisting primarily of upscale department stores, specialty retailers, upscale perfumeries, pharmacies, prestige salons and spas, free standing company owned stores and spas, company websites, authorized retailer websites, stores on cruise ships, direct response television, and in-flight and duty free shops.
Despite a global presence, about 40% of Estee Lauder's net sales come from the Americas, with Europe, Middle East and Africa contributing 38%, and Asia-Pacific constituting the remaining 22%. The company's increased focus on the Asia-Pacific market is expected to further increase in the future.
The Skin Care and Makeup segments have the highest contributions to Estee Lauder's value. Skin Care forms the priority category for the company, contributing ~50% of Estee Lauder's stock value, and Makeup contributes around 40%. The Skin Care segment is also the most profitable of all its beauty products, generating an EBITDA margin of 27%, compared to the company average of around 24%.
Market sizes and market shares in Skin Care Vs Makeup
The Skin Care market grew by 7.4% in 2014, and 5% in 2015. The Skin Care market is currently valued close to $115 billion and could cross $150 billion in the next five years.
In the Makeup category, Estee Lauder had a higher market share of around 13% in 2015 (that increased from 12% in 2010), but the overall market size of the Makeup segment is about half of skin-care. The overall Makeup market is currently valued around $60 billion and could exceed $80 billion by the end of our forecast period.
Higher margins in Skin Care compared to Makeup
We estimate that Estee Lauder's skin care EBITDA margin was around 27% in 2014, compared to 24% for the Makeup business.
Strong prestige beauty sales growth in 2014
Global growth of the prestige beauty segment is outpacing growth in the mass beauty segment. We expect this to benefit Estee Lauder's premium brands which earn the company higher profit margins.
The U.S. prestige beauty industry reached $16 billion in 2015, growing 7% in dollar sales, compared to 2014, according to the global information company The NPD Group. At 13%, the makeup segment experienced the healthiest growth, while fragrance grew 4%, and skincare increased by 3%. (Link)
Booming Skin Care due to anti-aging creams
Anti-aging creams and anti-cellulite skin care products are in high demand among aging populations in developed countries notably Japan (oldest demographic), the US, and Western Europe. Half of Estee Lauder's skin-care business comes from anti-aging products. The anti-aging market comprises of those products that can treat multiple signs of skin aging at one time, and is a fast-growing segment under the anti-aging beauty products. Estée Lauder launched its first global anti-aging cream in Europe in February 2012 and a China specific skin care brand Osiao in October 2012.
Growth of natural products categories and "Masstige" segment, as well as male product lines
There is a growing demand for natural / organic products in most countries, a trend led by the developed markets in the US and Western Europe. Additionally, there is an increased preference for less synthetic, eco-friendly, and more natural products and packaging.
There is a growing trend towards the so-called "Masstige," or premium brands sold at lower prices through mass distribution. In addition, beauty care products focused on men is the latest niche being targeted by most players globally. In developed markets, particularly in the US and Western Europe, the introduction and extension of the men’s product lines is a major source of growth.
Focus on travel retail
Estee Lauder has capitalized on the strong growth in its travel retail channel to capture the attention of travelers from emerging markets, who either buy in the channel, in stores at their destination, or when they return to their homes. The channel has performed particularly well for Estee Lauder within Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa, generating double-digit net sales growth in fiscal 2015. The main drivers to the travel retail segment growth were: the launch of new initiatives, an expanded distribution network, an increase in global airline passenger traffic, and accelerated orders.
In 2014, the global travel retail market was valued at ~64 billion and is estimated to reach at around $85 billion in 2020.(Link)
Global travel retail has quickly become the fastest-growing retail channel for beauty, fashion, and accessory products. The market is driven by expanding passenger volumes, especially in emerging markets. Global Airport Retailing information for 2012 reveals that the Asia-Pacific airport retail spending stood at $12.2 billion, while spending in Europe was $10.6 billion and for the Americas $7 billion. By 2016, it is expected that the spending will reach $23.2 billion for Asia Pacific, whereas for the Americas and Europe the figures will be $10.1 billion and $12.4 billion, respectively.
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