May 3, 2019 / 1:22 PM / 3 months ago

Brazil's Natura to invest $5 million in new brands through venture capital funds

Workers pack cosmetic products into boxes at Natura's factory in Cajamar, Sao Paulo September 1, 2009. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil cosmetics company Natura intends to invest up to $5 million in new brands in beauty and wellness segments in Europe and the United States through venture capital funds, executives said on Friday.

“Dynamo Beauty Ventures is the first vehicle that matches our criteria and focus moving forward and we anticipate there will be more of these initiatives in the future,” Roberto Marques, chairman of Natura’s board, told analysts in a call to discuss quarterly results.

Natura shares were down 0.4 percent in late afternoon trading, at 50.29 reais, after the company posted weaker than expected results amid a sluggish economic recovery in Brazil.

First-quarter net income grew by 72.8 percent year-on-year to 41.9 million reais ($10.63 million), below a consensus estimate of 59.1 million reais compiled by Refinitiv, as higher expenses overshadowed revenue gains.

“Natura’s first-quarter results showed a reversal of the robust growth trend for the brand in Brazil, implying potential downside to our estimates,” analysts at Itaú BBA wrote in a report.

Despite challenging conditions in key markets, notably Brazil, the company is still on track to deliver targets previously established and continue to deleverage, Natura’s chairman said.

He emphasized the firm expects to reduce its net debt/EBITDA ratio to 1.4 by 2021 compared to 2.95 at the end of March this year.

Market participants have been closely following Natura’s leverage, as the company negotiates a deal with cosmetics maker Avon Products two years after acquiring The Body Shop brand from L’Oreal in a 1 billion-euro transaction.

“At this point we have no further developments to report on our deal talks with Avon,” the chairman said.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello, Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Chizu Nomiyama

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