L'Oreal China Sales up 3.5% in 2014, E-Commerce Outshines

French cosmetics and perfume group L'Oreal reported 3.5% like-for-like sales growth in China during 2014. Although this marks a slowdown from previous years – one attributed to decelerating growth in the group's consumer division – L'Oreal management estimated that China's overall beauty market expanded by only about 6-7% last year, when all but one of its brands gained market share.

With department store sales weakening across the retail sector, L'Oreal also said e-commerce sales grew by over 60% last year. Online sales accounted for 10% of the group's consumer product sales and 17% of active cosmetics sales.

Sinopec Eng Misses 2014 New Order Target

Sinopec Engineering Group recorded 60.7 billion yuan in new orders during 2014, undershooting management guidance by 4% and also falling 14% short of the previous year's total new order value. New overseas orders were a particular source of disappointment, missing the group's target by about 35%. New domestic contracts, however, exceeded management's goal by roughly 9%. By the end of December, the group's order backlog equaled 104 billion yuan, up 12% from a year earlier.

According to analysts, 2015 is shaping up to be a tough year for Sinopec Engineering as weak crude prices dampen the profitability of coal-to-chemical projects. Such projects accounted for some 87% of top-line revenue in 2013. Last year, coal-to-chemical orders accounted for only about 38% of new contracts, the smallest share in three years.

China Real Estate Data: Sales Volumes for Week of Feb 22

The Chinese New Year holiday left a considerable dent in primary market home sales during the week ending February 22. According to data from industry portal Soufun, sales in Shanghai totaled just 236 units, down 91% week-on-week. Sales in Guangzhou equaled 177 units, down 86% week-on-week. Sales in Chengdu eased to 184 units, down 90% week-on-week. Sales in Nanjing hit just 93 units, down 92% week-on-week. Data for Beijing and Tianjin were unavailable.

Compared with the week of last year's Chinese New Year period, sales in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Nanjing were down by 49%, 35%, 62% and 59% respectively.

Developers Return to Offshore Debt Market

Several of China's largest property developers tapped the offshore bond market earlier this month as fallout subsided from Kaisa Group's recent debt travails. Greentown China Holdings announced the issuance of a 4-year $200 million bond carrying an 8% coupon. Evergrande Real Estate also issued $1 billion in 5-year senior notes with a 12% coupon. Shimao Property Holdings issued $800 million in 7-year bonds carrying an 8.375% coupon.

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