PARIS — Battered by weak fourth-quarter sales, Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group forecast a single-digit drop in operating profits for 2001.

The firm, whose brands include Swatch, Breguet, Longines, Omega and Rado, made the warning last week as it reported that sales for the year declined 1.9 percent to $2.5 billion, converted from Swiss francs at current exchange rates. It would only say the profit drop would be less than 10 percent. Swatch is scheduled to report profits for 2001 on March 21.

“Turnover for the most important last four months of the year turned out to be below our expectations,” the company said in a statement.

“Consumer sentiment became clearly more reluctant, especially in the USA, after the marked weakening of financial markets since spring, the terrorist attacks and other worldwide as well as local unrest,” it continued.

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