PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz AB said revenue growth continued to slow in December.
Sales in local currencies, including VAT, rose 6 percent, down from a 9 percent increase in November and a 10 percent rise in October. Converted into Swedish krona, sales were up 10 percent, the fast-fashion giant said.
Analysts at Barclays had predicted sales growth at 9 percent for the high-street retailer during the crucial holiday spending season. H&M shares were down 2.3 percent in mid-morning trading.
The retailer had a total of 4,379 stores worldwide as of Dec. 31, versus 3,957 a year earlier.
The 6 percent growth in sales in December is compared to a 10-percent increase in December 2015, when H&M bested expectations by posting double-digit growth amid a difficult climate for retailers following terror attacks in Europe.
With like-for-like sales flat or slightly down over the course of 2016, H&M’s growth has depended on investing in new stores and its e-commerce infrastructure. The strategy has meant that the group’s capital expenditure requirements are much steeper than for competitors like Inditex, which have been able to maintain high levels of growth in same-store sales.
In addition to high levels of investment, currency headwinds from the strong dollar — the primary currency cited in contracts with suppliers in Asia — have helped to sour some investor sentiment toward H&M.
A few analysts have taken a more positive view of the group’s outlook. A report last November by RBC Capital Markets heralded “better times ahead,” citing H&M’s positive brand perception in the growing Chinese market and that exchange rates would likely stabilize in 2017.
H&M is scheduled to release its full results for the financial year, including profits, on Jan. 31.