Best Stocks in Beauty Products: Estee Lauder Companies Inc. and Coty Inc.

Beauty product companies generally aren't known for explosive growth. Yet the industry is a fairly stable and non-cyclical one, which has grown at a pace of 3% to 5% annually over the past four years, according to cosmetics giant L'Oreal . Let's take a look at two of the best stocks in this sector -- Estee Lauder and Coty .

Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder's portfolio includes well-known brands like Aveda, Donna Karan, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, La Mer, and various licensed products for fashion houses.

Source: Coty.

In fiscal 2015, Coty's revenues declined 3% annually to $4.4 billion, but remained flat on a like-for-like basis (which only includes activities which were in effect during both periods). Excluding currency impacts, revenue -- 60% of which came from outside the Americas -- rose 2%. Coty's adjusted net income rose 14% to $360 million.

During the year, sales of Coty's color cosmetics, which accounted for a third of its top line, rose 12% annually on a constant currency basis. Sales of fragrances and skin/body care products, which accounted for the rest, both declined by single digits.

Coty plans to fill in those gaps by buying Procter & Gamble 's perfume, hair care, and cosmetic businesses in a massive $12.5 billion merger. After that deal closes next year, Coty will overtake L'Oreal as the biggest perfume maker in the world, and become the third largest makeup company behind L'Oreal and Estee Lauder. It would gain the perfume licenses of Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Dolce & Gabbana, along with the Cover Girl and Max Factor make-up brands. The new company would more than double its size and generate annual revenues exceeding $10 billion. The merger would result in $550 million in savings, but Coty must assume P&G Beauty's $2.9 billion in debt.

Even as it evolves into a much larger company, Coty hasn't forgotten about boosting shareholder value. It announced a new $700 million buyback plan in August, and boosted its dividend by 25% to $0.25 per share in September, which gives it a forward annual yield of 0.9%. Although Coty seems to be evolving into the next L'Oreal or Estee Lauder, it's much pricier than either company, with a trailing P/E of 42. Therefore, investors should keep a close eye on Coty, but be aware that its valuation could limit its upside potential.

The key takeaway

Estee Lauder and Coty are two solid ways to invest in beauty products. Both companies have non-cyclical portfolios which hold up well during downturns, as well as strong premium brands to ward off cheaper competitors.

However, investors should be aware of the near-term risks. A strong dollar is bad for both companies, and problems across Europe and Asia could curb spending on premium beauty products. More importantly, neither stock looks cheap compared to the market or other personal care stocks, so we could see lower prices ahead.

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The article Best Stocks in Beauty Products: Estee Lauder Companies Inc. and Coty Inc. originally appeared on

Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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