TAG HEUER NET RISES 15.7% FOR 1996 AS SALES GAIN 10.6%

MARIN, Switzerland — Tag Heuer International SA said earnings in 1996 rose 15.7 percent to $42 million (60.5 million Swiss francs), as sales gained 10.6 percent to $291.2 million (419.7 million Swiss francs).
A year earlier, the watch firm earned 52.3 million Swiss francs on sales of 379.6 million Swiss francs.
Earnings per share in 1996 came to 8 cents (11.24 Swiss francs), against 9.7 Swiss francs in 1995. Earnings per American depositary share came to 83 cents, against 72 cents in 1995.
A Salomon Bros. research report said earnings were in line with expectations and raised its fiscal 1997 estimate to 9 cents (12.9 Swiss francs) a share from 8.7 cents (12.5 Swiss francs).
Results have been adjusted for the company’s U.S. initial public offering in September.
Breaking down 1996 sales by region, Tag Heuer said the Americas gained 17.9 percent to $97 million (139.7 million Swiss francs), Europe rose 15.5 percent to $70.5 million (101.6 million Swiss francs) and Asia and Australia were up 3.1 percent to $123.8 million (178.4 million Swiss francs).
The company noted that its results met or exceeded all its goals for the year. “We were able to improve both our gross and operating margins,” Christian Viros, chief executive officer, said in a statement. “As a result of our strong operating performance and our initial public offering, we have also achieved our goal of strengthening Tag Heuer’s balance sheet.”
The Salomon Bros. research report said Tag Heuer sales are expected to gain about 8.5 percent in fiscal 1997, driven by price increases and a shift in the sales mix to high-end models. Geographically, sales in Japan and the U.S. will continue to be very important to Tag Heuer, the report added, noting these two areas will continue to account for nearly half of total sales.

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