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Avon products are seen at a sale in New York in this April 18, 2009 file photo. (ERIC THAYER/REUTERS)
Avon products are seen at a sale in New York in this April 18, 2009 file photo. (ERIC THAYER/REUTERS)

Eye on Equities

Avon's struggles earn target price cut Add to ...

It looks like the makeover at Avon Products Inc. is far from over.

RBC Dominion Securities analyst Jason Gere cut his target price Thursday on the U.S. cosmetic giant after reporting “another disappointing quarter.”

The seller of beauty products reported a 70-per-cent drop in second-quarter income due to falling demand for its products and currency headwinds from a strong U.S. dollar.

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Avon also said on Wednesday that it had begun talks with federal investigators to possibly settle a long-time investigation into allegations of bribery overseas.

Avon’s new chief executive officer Sheri McCoy, who succeeded the ousted predecessor Andrea Jung, has outlined initiatives to “drive stability in the business through a culture of accountability, supported by systems improvements and providing the necessary resources for each region,” Mr. Gere said in a report.

But it will “likely be a ways off before we see the benefits of these initiatives come through” with management admitting that second half of 2012 could be similar to the second quarter, he added.

“At this point, we think it is an open question when stability will return to the Avon Products model, and it remains difficult to assess whether earnings per share growth can return in 2013 or 2014.”

There is also some indication that a cut to the dividend could come prior to the end of the year, Mr. Gere said. “We believe the stock will continue to be range bound.”

Downside: The analyst, who maintains a “sector perform” rating, cut his one-year target by $3 (U.S.) a share to $16.

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InterRent REIT
M Partners analyst Brendon Abrams expects more gains for the real estate investment trust despite its already “spectacular run.” The distribution, which has increased to an annualized 16 cents per unit, will attract a larger shareholder base, he suggested.

Upside: He raised his rating on the REIT to a “buy,” and increased his one-year target to $6 (Canadian) a share from $5.25.

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Torstar Corp.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Aravinda Galappatthige cut her target price on the media company because of a weaker advertising environment, sluggish digital revenues and expectations of a softer second half from its Harlequin book division.

Downside: The analyst, who maintains a “hold” rating, reduced the one-year target by $1 a share to $9.75.

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Great-West Lifeco Inc.
The insurance giant’s second-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, excluding extraordinary items, “was in line with consensus, but just below our estimate of 48 cents,” said CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Sedran.

Downside: The analyst, who maintains a “sector underperformer” rating, cut his one-year target by $1 a share to $24.

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American Tower Corp.
The real estate investment trust, which owns cell-phone towers, had a solid second-quarter despite currency headwinds and “will remain a safe haven in an otherwise turbulent market,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Greg Miller.

Upside: The analyst, who maintains a “buy” rating, raised his one-year target by $8 (U.S.) a share to $80.

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