By and  on May 11, 2006

Valentino Net Profits Jump 28.1%
MILAN — Valentino Fashion Group SpA posted a double-digit jump in first-quarter net profits on swifter sales of its Valentino and Hugo Boss brands.

Net profits for the three months ended March 31 rose 28.1 percent, to 41.5 million euros, or $49.8 million. Sales for the period advanced 13.5 percent, to 588.5 million euros, or $706.2 million.

All euro figures have been converted from dollars at average exchange rates for the period.

Valentino Fashion Group was formed when Marzotto SpA spun off its fashion assets into a new entity and listed it on the Milan Stock Exchange last July. Since the company didn’t exist in its current form in the first quarter of last year, 2005 comparative figures are pro forma.

Hermes Reports 8.8% Sales Increase
PARIS — A nose shy of its luxury peers, Hermès International said Thursday its first-quarter sales galloped ahead 11.3 percent to 361.5 million euros, or $435 million. At constant exchange rates, the increase stood at 8.8 percent.

While the results were in line with expectations, Hermès was held back by production glitches in ready-to-wear and watches, which resulted in flat sales in those categories for the three months ended March 31. A slim 4.1 percent rise for high-margin handbags and luggage also disappointed analysts. Hermès blamed the slim increase on the discontinuation of a canvas line, which was seen as a threat to its upscale image.

Bulgari First Quarter Sales Soar
MILAN — Growth of the jewelry and watch categories across all geographical markets helped boost Bulgari’s first-quarter performance and drove chief executive officer Francesco Trapani to express optimism and expectations of “an 8 to 9 percent growth” for the year.

Bulgari’s net profits in the first quarter rose 19 percent, to 18.2 million euros, or $21.8 million, compared with the same period in the previous year, as sales grew 13.6 percent, to 203.9 million euros, or $244.7 million. At constant exchange rates, sales would have grown 11.9 percent. All dollar figures are at the average exchange rate.

“The results achieved through this first quarter of the year in all product categories and in all countries make me optimistic also for the forthcoming months and confirm that we are going in the right direction,” said Trapani in a statement issued on Thursday. “In accordance with the guidance given to the market at the beginning of the year, in fact, I expect for 2006 — without extraordinary events — an 8 to 9 percent increase at comparable exchange rates for turnover and net profits.”

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