Shares in French cosmetics group L'Oreal rose today after its fourth quarter sales beat expectations, along with a confident outlook for 2018.

The company's comments regarding its intentions on Nestle further buoyed the stock. 

L'Oreal's chief executive reiterated the company's willingness to buy Nestle's 23% stake in the firm should its Swiss shareholder want to sell.

L'Oreal Chairman and chief executive Jean-Paul Agon said today he was confident of significant growth in like-for-like sales in 2018. 

This was after L'Oreal reported that sales had risen by a better-than-expected 5.5% in the fourth quarter on a comparable basis. 

Asked if L'Oreal was ready to repurchase its stake, Agon told the Financial Times: "We have all the resources for that. We are cash rich. We have our Sanofi stake, we are absolutely financially very solid and we have what it takes to do anything".

The death in September of billionaire Liliane Bettencourt has focused attention on how L'Oreal's founding family and major shareholder Nestle would manage their stakes in the world's biggest cosmetics firm.

Meanwhile billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, founder of hedge fund Third Point, has pushed for Nestle to sell its L'Oreal stake as he keeps up pressure with demands that Nestle move faster to overhaul its general corporate strategy.