MILAN — As Gucci Group prepares to release its last set of financial results of the Dom and Tom era today, analysts are expecting strong sales momentum in the fourth quarter but a decline in net profits for the year.
In the quarter, sales are expected to be up by double digits for the group, with net profits slightly down due in part to higher taxes. Full-year net profit is seen dropping by as much as 24 percent, while sales are seen rising about 4 percent.
These are likely to be the last set of financial results for Gucci as a listed company. As reported, majority shareholder Pinault-Printemps-Redoute is launching a tender offer for all of the Gucci shares it doesn’t already own.
The offer period is expected to start today in the U.S. and Friday in the Netherlands and expire on April 29. PPR currently owns 67.58 percent of Gucci Group and is offering $85.52 per share, as reported.
PPR has said it is willing to spend an additional $3.17 billion, or 2.6 billion euros, to acquire up to 100 percent of Gucci, for a total cost of $8.78 billion, or 7.2 billion euros.
Gucci shares closed at $69.25, down 1.28 percent, in trading Wednesday on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.
But if the French retail group ends up with less than 85 percent at the end of this month’s put, Gucci remains a publicly traded company, with PPR in full control of management. If it ends up with between 85 and 95 percent, PPR can make a subsequent offer for two additional weeks. Finally, if PPR ends up with more than 95 percent of Gucci shares, it can launch a “squeeze out” to tempt any stragglers and de-list the company.
In the meantime, PPR has kept a tight lid on who will succeed Domenico De Sole as Gucci chief executive officer.
The French retail conglomerate has only said it will make an announcement before the end of the put. Last month, four internal Tom Ford-trained designers were named as his successors at the design helm of Gucci and YSL.
As for the results, analysts say they expect a swift pickup in fourth-quarter Gucci brand sales in all regions, in line with earlier guidance from the company and supporting the theory that shoppers want to stock up on Gucci items before Ford’s departure. “We are expecting a Tom Ford effect. People are probably rushing to buy the last items,” said one analyst.Lehman Brothers analyst Rebecca Ivaldi also expects Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta “to be delivering sequential retail sales growth, confirming the positive momentum registered in the third quarter.”
For the Gucci brand, “drivers should be leather goods, shoes and jewelry, while watches, in line with sector trends, should remain weak,” noted Merrill Lynch analyst Antoine Colonna.
Goldman Sachs analyst Jacques-Franck Dossin took a more optimistic view in his preview note, anticipating a strong recovery in Gucci watch sales, up 14 percent, plus increases of 12 percent and 8 percent for leather goods and shoes, respectively.
“In [the fourth quarter], we expect further acceleration of the Gucci brand, following a strong rebound in [the third quarter], driven by the success of the new collections,” he wrote.
Still, those numbers won’t be enough to compensate for the first half of the year, when net profits at Gucci Group plunged more than 69 percent. Analysts attributed the weak first-half numbers to a combination of tough macroeconomic conditions and a merchandise mix at Gucci that featured pricier items and not enough commercial goods like fabric logo handbags.
Morgan Stanley analyst Claire Kent said in a report that she expects fourth-quarter Gucci brand sales growth of 8.9 percent, or 14.7 percent stripping out the effects of currency fluctuations. She said that losses at Yves Saint Laurent should continue to widen but that narrower losses at Gucci’s other brands should help compensate.
With the exception of Gucci and YSL, Gucci does not break down financial information for the other brands in its portfolio, such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron and Sergio Rossi.
HSBC analysts Antoine Belge and Nathalie Schneider said in their report that they expect YSL sales growth of 35 percent for the fourth quarter, or 40 percent at constant currency terms. Unlike Kent, they said YSL’s losses should actually narrow.
“Nevertheless, we cannot rule out that management spared no expense to make Tom Ford’s last fashion show for the brand an unforgettable event,” they wrote.
Lehman’s Ivaldi said she expects losses at the “other brands” to narrow, to about 55 million euros for the full year, versus 81 million euros a year ago.Dossin at Goldman Sachs said he expects continued strength at Bottega Veneta and a “good” performance at Sergio Rossi, but believes the other brands, particularly Boucheron and Balenciaga, “will continue to struggle.”
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