The end of the year doesn't look easy for Richemont

Cie. Financière Richemont SA dragged European stocks last Friday after the Swiss luxury group missed forecasts with its latest earnings. In fact, the Geneva-based company prompted a sell off after it said net profit for the six months to September 30 rose to 1.1 billion euros, behind analysts’ expectations of 1.23 billion euros.

In the wake of the news, the stock lost 9.1 percent on the Swiss Market Index as investors reacted negatively to these figures and Richemont´s expectations for the rest of the year to be “challenging.”

Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert voiced the company´s concerns for the coming months, saying that, “For the second half of the year, we expect the situation, particularly in wholesale, to continue to be challenging.”

The company, whose brands include Chloe, Vacheron Constantin, and Mont Blanc amongst others, noted an overall rise in sales of 3 percent at constant currencies to 5.8 billion euros in the first half to September, 30. Net profits rose 22 percent to 1.1 billion euros.

Weak Richemont results confirm a downwards trend for luxury retail in FY15H2

“Richemont’s results confirm a difficult demand environment for luxury goods, and a likely low key end to a soft 2015 for the industry,” said Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.

In general, analysts ‘sentiment towards the results was unanimous: the figures were disappointing.

Main points highlighted by market experts as reasons for concern were generalised lower sales due to lower sales in local currencies, reduced profitability due to the stronger Swiss franc, and the announcement that Stanislas de Quercize, the head of Richemont’s Cartier business was standing down for personal reasons.

Indeed, De Quercize will also leave Richemont’s group management committee, but remain with the company as chairman of Richemont France. The group has announced that the position will be taken over by Cyrille Vigneron, the president of LVMH Japan, effective January, 1.

This is no accident, as the choice of an executive with solid experience in Asia comes in when Hong Kong and Macau, two of the largest markets for luxury goods companies, remained “extremely difficult,” according to CEO Gary Saages. On the upside, mainland China had returned to growth, with sales up 1 percent during the period, Saage said, driven by a strong increase in retail sales, although wholesale orders remained subdued.

The group’s jewellery business provided a silver lining, with sales rising 18 percent and operating profit improved. The company, which owns Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, is benefiting from an increased consumer preference for branded jewelry, a trend it expects to continue, highlights the ‘Wall Street Journal’.

“Jewelry is growing regionally everywhere, at all price points,” assured Saages. “Jewelry is probably more dynamic than watches.”


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