NEW YORK, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE: AVP) announced today, October 20, 2008, that it is voluntarily conducting an internal investigation of its China operations, focusing on compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). The Company, under the oversight of the Audit Committee, commenced in June 2008 an internal investigation after it received an allegation that certain travel, entertainment and other expenses may have been improperly incurred in connection with the Company's China operations. The company has voluntarily contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Department of Justice to advise both agencies that an internal investigation is underway. The internal investigation is in its early stage and no conclusion can be drawn at this time as to its outcome.
Avon, the company for women, is a leading global beauty company, with over $10 billion in annual revenue. As the world's largest direct seller, Avon markets to women in more than 100 countries through over 5.5 million independent Avon Sales Representatives. Avon's product line includes beauty products, fashion jewelry and apparel, and features such well-recognized brand names as Avon Color, Anew, Skin-So-Soft, Advance Techniques, Avon Naturals, and Mark. Learn more about Avon and its products at www.avoncompany.com.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT FOR PURPOSES OF THE "SAFE HARBOR" STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995
Statements in this release that are not historical facts or information are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "estimate," "project," "forecast," "plan," "believe," "may," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "planned," "potential," "can," "expectation" and similar expressions, or the negative of those expressions, may identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on management's reasonable current assumptions and expectations. Such forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievement of Avon to be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, and there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from management's expectations. Such factors include, among others, the following:
- our ability to implement the key initiatives of and realize the operating margins and projected benefits (in the amounts and time schedules we expect) from our global business strategy, including our multi-year restructuring initiatives, product mix and pricing strategies, enterprise resource planning, customer service initiatives, product line simplification program, sales and operation planning process, strategic sourcing initiative, outsourcing strategies, zero-overhead-growth philosophy, cash flow from operations and cash management, tax, foreign currency hedging and risk management strategies;
- our ability to realize the anticipated benefits (including our projections concerning future revenue and operating margin increases) from our multi-year restructuring initiatives or other strategic initiatives on the time schedules or in the amounts that we expect, and our plans to invest these anticipated benefits ahead of future growth;
- the possibility of business disruption in connection with our multi-year restructuring initiatives or other strategic initiatives;
- our ability to realize sustainable growth from our investments in our brand and the direct selling channel;
- a general economic downturn or recession in one or more of our geographic regions, such as North America, and the ability of our broad-based geographic portfolio to withstand a downturn in a particular region;
- the inventory obsolescence and other costs associated with our product line simplification program;
- our ability to effectively implement initiatives to reduce inventory levels in the time period and in the amounts we expect;
- our ability to achieve growth objectives or maintain rates of growth, particularly in our largest markets and developing and emerging markets;
- our ability to successfully identify new business opportunities and identify and analyze acquisition candidates, and our ability to negotiate and consummate acquisitions as well as to successfully integrate or manage any acquired business;
- the effect of political, legal and regulatory risks, as well as foreign exchange or other restrictions, imposed on us, our operations or our Representatives by governmental entities;
- our ability to successfully transition our business in China in connection with the resumption of direct selling in that market, our ability to operate using the direct selling model permitted in that market and our ability to retain and increase the number of Active Representatives there over a sustained period of time;
- the impact of substantial currency fluctuations on the results of our foreign operations;
- general economic and business conditions in our markets, including social, economic and political uncertainties in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East;
- the risk of disruption in Central and Eastern Europe associated with a change to a more rapid selling cycle with more frequent brochures;
- information technology systems outages, disruption in our supply chain or manufacturing and distribution operations, or other sudden disruption in business operations beyond our control as a result of events such as acts of terrorism or war, natural disasters, pandemic situations and large scale power outages;
- the risk of product or ingredient shortages resulting from our concentration of sourcing in fewer suppliers;
- the quality, safety and efficacy of our products;
- the success of our research and development activities;
- our ability to attract and retain key personnel and executives;
- competitive uncertainties in our markets, including competition from companies in the cosmetics, fragrances, skin care and toiletries industry, some of which are larger than we are and have greater resources;
- our ability to implement our Sales Leadership program globally, to generate Representative activity, to increase Representative productivity, to improve Internet-based tools for our Representatives, and to compete with other direct selling organizations to recruit, retain and service Representatives;
- the impact of the seasonal nature of our business, adverse effect of rising energy, commodity and raw material prices, changes in market trends, purchasing habits of our consumers and changes in consumer preferences, particularly given the global nature of our business and the conduct of our business in primarily one channel;
- our ability to continue to help offset higher commodity costs through the savings and benefits from our strategic initiatives, strategic price increases and holding cost growth below our revenue growth;
- our ability to protect our intellectual property rights;
- the risk of an adverse outcome in our material pending and future litigations;
- our ratings and our access to financing and ability to secure financing at attractive rates; and
- the impact of possible pension funding obligations, increased pension expense and any changes in pension regulations or interpretations thereof on our cash flow and results of operations.
Additional information identifying such factors is contained in Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We undertake no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Avon Products, Inc.