BEAUTY CARE

Physicians Formula terminates stock repurchase instruction

BY Antoinette Alexander

AZUSA, Calif. Beauty company Physicians Formula announced on Friday that in light of the unanticipated change in the volume limitation under Rule 10b-18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, it has terminated its Rule 10b5-1 trading plan dated Sept. 12, 2008.

Physicians Formula gave notice of the termination to the broker on Thursday. The notice takes effect Friday.

As of the close of trading on Thursday, approximately $6.5 million remained authorized for repurchases under the company’s previously announced stock repurchase program for up to $10 million of the its common stock.

Under the repurchase program, the company may continue to repurchase shares of its common stock in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions, in compliance with the safe harbor provisions of Rule 10b-18 under the Exchange Act. The window for such discretionary repurchases is currently closed and will reopen two full trading days after Physicians Formula announces its third fiscal quarter results.

The repurchase program does not obligate the company to repurchase any dollar amount or number of shares of its common stock, and the program may be extended, modified, suspended or discontinued at any time.

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Estee Lauder releases new fragrances in mass retail market

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK The Estee Lauder Cos. have reportedly teamed up with Wal-Mart to launch a trio of scents later this year.

According to reports, the beauty firm’s Aramis and Designer Fragrances division will wade into the women’s mass-market fragrance category with its C-Thru scents slated to launch in Wal-Mart in December.

The rollout will continue in January with distribution to Kohl’s, Target and other mass retailers, according to reports. At full rollout, the scents will be sold in about 10,000 stores in North America.

This isn’t the first time, however, that Estee Lauder has dabbled in the mass market. Several years ago, the firm’s BeautyBank division developed products that first launched in Kohl’s. In addition, the company began distributing its Clinique brand to Canadian drug store chain Shoppers Drug Mart.

The beauty firm is likely hoping such initiatives will help bolster the bottom line as department stores in North America continue to face economic pressures and lose share to specialty retailers.

“We believe sales trends in the United States, Europe and travel retail will slow from current consensus expectations. We reduced our forecast for U.S. department store sales by 300bps for 2009, and already look for Europe and Asia to slow 400 bps year-over-year, bringing global growth to 5.8 percent versus guidance of 6 percent to 8 percent,” stated Morgan Stanley analyst William Pecoriello in a research note on Estee Lauder issued Wednesday.

Pecoriello downgraded Estee Lauder’s shares to underweight from equal-weight and moved down the price target to $48 from $51.

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CVS to carry Photo Therapeutics LED home skin treatment device

BY Antoinette Alexander

CARLSBAD, Calif. Photo Therapeutics, a developer of therapeutic LED technology for the physician dermatology market, announced with PhotoMedex that it is launching its Omnilux LED-based technology at nearly 600 CVS Healthy Skincare locations this fall and at cvs.com.

CVS will distribute Photo Therapeutics’ hand-held LED device, dubbed Omnilux New-U, for skin rejuvenation and the reduction of fine lines and peri-orbital wrinkles beginning in October.

According to the company, the Omnilux New-U is the first and only hand-held device to receive clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter sales to consumers for use at home.

The New-U can be used in combination with a skincare regime or as a stand-alone treatment.

In other company news, Photo Therapeutics has announced its intent to be acquired by PhotoMedex, players in medical laser treatments for psoriasis and other skin diseases and marketers of skincare products to dermatologists.  This union is expected to spur further investment in the research, development and marketing of Photo Therapeutics’ LED and light-based therapies under PhotoMedex to complement therapies in the medical, beauty and cosmetic fields. The proposed acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008.  

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