H&M Misses Analysts’ Target For Second Straight Month

Paying for the cautious stance it adopted before the war in Iraq, Hennes & Mauritz reported its second straight month of weaker-than-expected sales.

PARIS — Paying for the cautious stance it adopted before the war in Iraq, fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz reported its second consecutive month of weaker-than-expected sales.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Stockholm-based firm on Tuesday said sales for June gained 8 percent before the impact of currency exchange rates, well under analysts’ consensus expectations for a 12 to 13 percent gain.

“The company has underbought for summer,” commented Robert Miller, a retail analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in London. “It may reflect their careful position. But I’m still surprised by the numbers.”

Carl-Henric Enhorning, head of H&M’s investor relations, conceded that low inventory levels were “partly” to blame for June’s weak numbers.

“We’ve been slightly too cautious this summer,” he said. “We’ve been discounting less because we have less inventory.”

Enhorning also cited a negative calendar effect in June, which had one less shopping day than the same month last year.

“We’re trading on lower selling prices because of the weakened dollar,” Enhorning added. “This brought down revenue by about 2 to 3 percent. And the shorter calendar weighed another 2 to 3 percent.”

A published report quoted an H&M official as saying that comparable-store sales fell roughly 3 percent during the month. H&M doesn’t include comp results in its monthly sales update.

Sales were weakest in Germany, and Nordic and Scandinavian markets, which account for more than 50 percent of total revenue.

France and the U.K. did better, while sales were “below average” in the U.S., said Enhorning.

Enhorning said that he expected an upturn in July. “June is slower than expected, but the sales are not catastrophic,” he said

H&M’s stock lost 5 percent to close at $21.99, or 180 Swedish krono, in trading on the Stockholm Bourse. The dollar figure was converted from the krono at current exchange.