(Adds details, CEO quote)
By Martinne Geller
LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - Demand for Nivea, Eucerin and La Prairie skincare products helped German consumer goods maker Beiersdorf overcome a “difficult market” and increase 2016 annual sales and profit.
Beiersdorf said on Wednesday its 2016 sales rose to 6.75 billion euros from 6.69 billion in 2015. Before its preliminary results in January, analysts had expected sales of 6.72 billion euros ($7.1 billion).
Organic sales rose 3.2 percent, with sales in its much larger consumer segment up 3.3 percent, and sales in the tesa adhesives business up 2.6 percent.
The Hamburg-based company said group earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose to 1.02 billion euros from 962 million euros in 2015. Its margin rose to 15 percent, its highest ever, from 14.4 percent in 2015.
“Contrary to the general market trend in the industry, we experienced strong growth, especially in the fourth quarter,” Chief Executive Stefan Heidenreich said in a statement.
Beiersdorf cited particularly strong growth in Eastern Europe and its Africa/Asia/Australia segment, except for China, where sales fell.
“Although the environment will remain tough, we look to fiscal year 2017 with cautious optimism,” Heidenreich added.
Beiersdorf forecast sales growth of 3 percent to 4 percent and a slight improvement in its EBIT margin for 2017. It said it would propose a dividend of 70 euro cents per share, unchanged from the prior year. ($1 = 0.9469 euros) (Editing by David Clarke and Alexander Smith)