Luxe retailers have largely remained tight-lipped on what impact continued unrest in Hong Kong may have on sales, but that hasn’t stopped analysts from speculating.
Investment bank Cowen has calculated that Tiffany & Co., LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Compagnie Financière Richemont, Capri Holdings and Tapestry Inc. could face a 10 to 60 percent sales hit in Hong Kong if disruptions last until the yearend and a resulting EPS decline of between 1 to 4 percent.
“Political unrest has intensified in Hong Kong, paralyzing key parts of the city with flights canceled. We view the ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong combined with lower tourism inflow due to the strengthening Hong Kong dollar can be a headwind for luxury retailers in our coverage,” Oliver Chen, an analyst at Cowen, said in a note to clients.
Compagnie Financière Richemont, whose brands include Cartier and Piaget, is most vulnerable, according to the research. That’s because it has the largest exposure to Hong Kong at 11 percent of sales, plus the added risk of soft watch sales trends.
In its first-quarter results, Richemont revealed it enjoyed double-digit growth in key Asia-Pacific markets, with the exception of Hong Kong. There, sales retreated due to the relative strength of the Hong Kong dollar and the protests.
In contrast to Richemont, Cowen believes LVMH would experience the least adverse impact.
“We favor LVMH within our luxury stock universe, given its diversified portfolio of heritage brands, and robust demand in Mainland China could offset declining sales in Hong Kong,” said Chen, noting that it has been seeing double-digit percentage growth in Mainland China.
For Capri, which owns Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, its Hong Kong exposure is relatively small at 4 percent of sales, but Cowen thinks the company might not have as much flexibility in recouping lost sales in Mainland China.
For now though, the overall impact from Hong Kong disruptions for luxury retailers appears manageable, given the estimated 4 to 11 percent sales exposure in Hong Kong.
Downside risks to this forecast, however, include longer-than-anticipated disruptions in Hong Kong and the potential for waning luxury goods demand in Mainland China due to macro uncertainties.
“Considering these factors, we view management could be cautious in the back half with their guidance,” said Chen.
Earlier this month, when probed on an investors call, John Idol, chief executive of Capri, lamented that the situation in Hong Kong “appears to be getting worse, not better,” but stressed that as of yet he can’t speculate on what the implications for Capri might be.
“We just don’t know, but we have a very strong and significant business there with all of our brands and it does concern us. Again, in the total scheme of things it won’t be immaterial to the overall group, but it definitely impacts in that region itself,” he said.
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