Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LVMH Beats Estimates on Vuitton, Says Cognac Sales Picking Up

LVMH Beats Estimates on Vuitton, Says Cognac Sales Picking Up

By Ladka Bauerova

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the largest luxury-goods maker, reported third-quarter revenue that beat analysts’ estimates after “exceptional” demand for Vuitton bags in China, and said cognac demand is improving.

Sales slipped to 4.14 billion euros ($6.2 billion) from 4.16 billion euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said today after markets closed. That surpassed the 4.07 billion-euro median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Sales of Louis Vuitton apparel and accessories posted “double-digit” growth, LVMH said. Demand for cognac “significantly” improved as wholesalers in the U.S. began to replenish their inventories during the quarter, the company said, echoing the outlook from smaller liquor rival Remy Cointreau SA released last week.

“I can’t say the crisis is over yet, but we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said during a conference call. “Louis Vuitton’s performance in China was exceptional.”

LVMH shares rose 2.45 euros, or 3.4 percent, to 74.90 euros in Paris trading today, the highest in more than a year. They have rallied 57 percent in 2009 after tumbling 42 percent last year, when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy spooked luxury-goods buyers.

Revenue at the company’s fashion and leather goods division gained 5.3 percent, fueled by Vuitton sales. Wholesale sales of other LVMH fashion brands including DKNY and Fendi had a “double-digit” decline in the third quarter, though they improved in September, Guiony said.

Revenue at LVMH’s wines and spirits division, which makes Veuve Clicquot champagne and Hennessy cognac, fell 8.6 percent in the quarter as drinkers in the U.S. and Russia cut back. Unlike cognac, the champagne market “remains difficult” as some consumers switch from LVMH’s expensive vintages to cheaper brands, Guiony said.

Watch and jewelry sales, which make up about 5 percent of total revenue, dropped 22 percent, while perfumes and cosmetics slid 4.6 percent. The retail unit, which includes the Sephora cosmetics chain and Duty Free Shops, climbed 2.5 percent.
(SOURCE: Bloomberg.com)

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