LUXURY: Sales growth decelerated to 2 percent, up to $5.89 billion, in the first half of the year at LVMH MOET HENNESSY LOUIS VUITTON, but the luxury powerhouse expects operating profits to advance 15 percent for the half nonetheless when it reports bottom-line results for the period next month. Group sales fell 2.5 percent to $2.9 billion in the second quarter. Lifted by the addition of Donna Karan’s business, LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division, its largest business group, saw sales leap 16 percent in the first half, to $2.04 billion. Marc Jacobs, Céline and the footwear firm Berluti were cited for special merit, as was the performance of Louis Vuitton in both Japan and the U.S. Sales of perfumes and cosmetics inched up 2 percent to $1.07 billion in the half, besting analysts’ expectations. Watches and jewelry sales dipped 3 percent to $257.9 million. Selective retail volume slipped 9 percent to $1.58 billion in the half. Sales at DFS, hard-hit in Hawaii, North America and mid-Pacific destinations, fell 21 percent versus a year ago. On the plus side, it noted that Sephora logged same-store sales growth of 25 percent in the U.S. LVMH continues to expect that DFS, trimmed off $150 million in operating costs, will break even this year, while Sephora is expected to turn a profit in 2003.... GUCCI GROUP chief Domenico De Sole last month said that the firm is on track to meet its financial targets for the year, banking on second-half improvement to allow the luxury house to log fully diluted earnings per share of between $2.58 and $2.98 when the year ends next January. Sales are slated to hit $2.68 billion when the year is through. These numbers compare to EPS of $2.74 and revenues of $2.29 billion last year. At the same time, the company and its 53 percent owner, French-based retailing powerhouse Pinault Printemps Redoute, expressed confidence that PPR will have the cash necessary to buy Gucci’s remaining equity for $101.50 a share in 2004 amid concerns that PPR might need to sell assets in order to meet its $5 billion commitment to buy the rest of Gucci.... BURBERRY went public last month at $3.50 a share, valuing the company at $1.69 billion. While Britain’s FTSE 100 index dropped 8.5 percent on Burberry’s first day as a public company, the stock was off just 2 percent, to $3.38. Chief executive Rose Marie Bravo, catching her breath after a long road show, holds about 1 percent of its shares. Parent GUS retains 77.5 percent of the company.... PRADA GROUP never got to the IPO stage, however. After three postponements, chief Patrizio Bertelli finally said there would be no initial public offering for Prada in 2002 after three separate IPO postponements. "Depending on market conditions, we will go public in 2003 or 2004," he said. Before calling off any chance of an IPO this year, the company had planned to list the company’s shares at the end of June. Among the alternatives being considered by Prada to reduce its debt, most recently listed at $843.2 million — the sale of some of its more than $550 million in real estate assets. Its real estate could be placed in a separate entity jointly owned by a bank with the venture issuing bonds guaranteed by the value of the property.... MARZOTTO in March acquired Valentino from Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali for $210 million, including the assumption of debt, but its attempts to build the designer house may have been thwarted by problems with an earlier acquisition, Germany’s Hugo Boss AG. Marzotto said it hopes to turn a profit with Valentino by 2004. Meanwhile, difficult market conditions and an inventory scandal in the U.S., which led to the departure of long-time Boss U.S. ceo Marty Staff, and the failure of its Boss Woman operation to catch fire caused Boss’ net income to fall by about half, to $30 million, during the first half of 2002. The company has twice lowered profit expectations this summer.... COMPAGNIE FINANCIERE RICHEMONT’s net income dropped by two-thirds in the fiscal year ended March 31, as sales advanced 4.8 percent to $3.65 billion. CEO Johann Rupert saw little on the horizon suggesting immediate relief when year-end results came out in June.

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