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LVMH Sales Gain 14.8% in Third Quarter

French luxury giant cites a “mixed business environment.”

PARIS — Citing a “mixed business environment,” LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said sales advanced 14.8 percent in the third quarter to 6.9 billion euros, or $8.63 billion, versus 6.01 billion euros, or $8.51 billion, in the year-ago period.

This story first appeared in the October 16, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In organic terms, revenue growth stood at 6 percent, which the French luxury giant characterized as a“good performance in the current economic environment” and compared to a “strong” Q3 in 2011.

Nevertheless, the figure represents a slowdown from earlier in the year, and dovetails with other market data suggesting the overheated sector is cooling. On Thursday, Burberry reported a slowdown in revenues in its fiscal second quarter, due partly to declining footfall in China.

Separately on Monday, consultancy Bain & Co. said it expects the luxury goods market to grow by 4 to 6 percent a year between 2013 and 2015, below the 10 percent forecast for 2012.

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At LVMH, organic growth in the second quarter was 10 percent, versus 14 percent in the first three months of the year.

“Despite the background of an economic slowdown in Europe, LVMH remains confident in its outlook for 2012,” the company said, giving no other guidance than to further extend its “global leadership position in luxury products.”

The luxury group trumpeted double-digit gains at its flagship Louis Vuitton brand in the first nine months of the year, and a “remarkable” performance for Celine across all markets and product ranges.

LVMH is slated to host a conference call today to discuss the figures.

The company noted that the U.S. market “continues to generate solid momentum,” with Europe and Asia also contributing to the third-quarter performance.

In the nine months ended Sept. 30, revenues for the parent of brands including Bulgari, Guerlain, Givenchy, Sephora and Dom Perignon rose 21.9 percent to 19.87 billion euros, or $25.47 billion, from 16.3 billion euros, or $22.94 billion. Stripping out the impact of currency fluctuations and acquisitions, the gain stood at 10 percent.

In organic terms, revenues rose 7 percent for watches and jewelry, 8 percent for fashion and leather goods, 8 percent for perfumes and cosmetics, 12 percent for wines and spirits and 14 percent for selective retailing.

Dollar figures are converted from euros at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

According to calculations by HSBC analyst Antoine Belge in Paris, the fashion and leather goods division logged growth of only 4 percent, a rate it deemed “particularly disappointing.”

The bank recently downgraded LVMH to neutral, arguing that “as Chinese consumers become more sophisticated, mega brands like (Louis Vuitton) will lose market share, if only for scale reasons,” estimating the brand’s sales this year at 7.4 billion euros, or $9.48 billion at current exchange.