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Avon Sets Aside More Money For Bribery Settlement

Thu, 02/13/2014 - 10:56am

NEW YORK (AP) -- Avon said Thursday that it could pay up to $132 million to settle a long-running bribery investigation and posted another loss, its fourth over the past five quarters.

The beauty products direct seller has been cutting costs, eliminating jobs and leaving markets as its sales decline. In the fourth quarter, its products sold fell 10 percent and its number of sellers fell 5 percent.

Its latest loss came to $69.1 million, or 16 cents per share, in the October-December period, compared with a loss of $162.2 million, or 37 cents per share, in the same months of 2012.

Stripping out the costs of adding another $77 million to its reserve for the bribery probe, restructuring its business and other items, the company said it earned 34 cents per share. That's 4 cents more than analysts polled by FactSet predicted.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $2.67 billion. Analysts forecast $2.76 billion.

Avon's reserve for the bribery probe settlements with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission now comes to $89 million. But Avon said it could pay up to $43 million more. The investigation began in 2008 and focused on Avon's activities in China. It has since spread to other countries.

Its shares slipped 7 cents to $14.99 in morning trading. Its shares are down almost 28 percent since a year ago.

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