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Avon to take 'critical' look at dividends in 2016

The Avon Products headquarters is seen in midtown Manhattan area of New York, June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (Reuters)

(Reuters) - Avon Products Inc , a direct seller of cosmetics, said it would look at dividend payments with a "more critical lens" in 2016, as it expects a bigger impact from the strong dollar. Shares of the company, which reported a bigger-than-expected third-quarter loss, tumbled as much as 17.6 percent to a low of $3.55 on Wednesday. Avon has been paying a quarterly dividend of 6 cents per share for over three years, after slashing it by 74 percent in 2012. The company has been struggling to reverse a decline in sales for nearly 4 years, as it loses representatives – the so-called "Avon Ladies" – in the United States and grapples with weak demand in Brazil. Avon said recruitment of representatives who sell its products directly to customers fell 1 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30. The Wall Street Journal had reported that Avon is exploring selling a stake to private equity firms as well as selling off its North America business. Third-quarter revenue fell 22 percent to $1.67 billion. Excluding the impact of the dollar, sales declined 2 percent. The net loss attributable to the company was $697 million, or $1.58 per share. The company had reported a profit of $91.4 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier. Avon's shares were trading at $3.71 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Up to Tuesday's close, the company's stock had fallen 54 percent this year. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhijith G in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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