By  on February 5, 2014

LONDON — Talk of peddling Net-a-porter may have died down since the company’s parent Compagnie Financière Richemont denied last year that it was for sale, but that hasn’t stopped some from keeping the conversation alive.

On Wednesday, Vontobel’s equity research team in Zurich wrote a short note about the expected initial public offering later this year of Zalando, the German online clothing retailer that stocks brands ranging from Benetton and Adidas to Tommy Hilfiger and G-Star Raw.

It compared Zalando with Net, and said the latter could be valued between 2 billion euros and 2.5 billion euros, or $2.7 billion to $3.38 billion at current exchange, or 6 to 7 percent of Richemont’s market capitalization. That figure is based on a valuation of 4.3 times Net’s 2012 sales.

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Vontobel said that while Net remains a loss-making company, it still generates a positive operating cash flow, and represents 5 percent of Richemont’s sales.

“Zalando’s IPO will be an interesting comparison to Richemont’s luxury online retailer Net-a-porter, which is still loss making but mainly due to the intangible write-offs and the expansion into the Asian markets,” the bank’s report said.

“Already in October Richemont stated that Net-a-porter is not for sale, and we do not expect an IPO in the short term, but it will continue to outperform in terms of growth and we expect a positive contribution in [the 2015 fiscal year]. We continue to recommend the stock as a buy.”

Richemont’s stock closed up 2.3 percent at 83.90 Swiss francs, or $92.88.

Last October, Thomas Chauvet, head of European luxury goods research at Citigroup in London, said he believed Net could be sold for 2.28 billion euros, or $3.08 billion, three times the luxury e-tailer’s projected sales of 760 million euros, or $1.03 billion, for the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to Citi estimates.

Chauvet said he used a multiple of three for a number reasons: “We believe [Net] is an asset operating in a highly coveted segment, considering the intense M&A activity in the online luxury space, Amazon’s intentions to make a move in online luxury retailing and rich valuation multiples enjoyed by Asos and Yoox.”

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