MILAN — Benetton’s net profit rose 21 percent in the first half as sales gained 5 percent against a year ago.
Net income came to $81.1 million (140 billion lire) on sales of $892.4 million (1.54 trillion lire). The company said the profit increase was due chiefly to an ongoing program to improve manufacturing and managerial operations. The firm has just built two plants and boasts a new computer system that has made delivery cycles more efficient. Also helping profits was the fact that the firm began 1997 with no debt and cash reserves of $80 million.
Gross operating profit rose to $370.6 million (639.4 billion lire), or about 41.5 percent of sales, from 594.7 billion lire, or 40.6 percent. Operating income was $133.3 million (230 billion lire), or about 15 percent of sales, compared with 203.6 billion lire, or 13.97 percent of sales.
Analysts here liked the numbers and predicted a similar rise in yearend results. “Benetton is going like a train,” said Paul Gordon, an equities analysts for IMI Sigeco, who is expecting to see at least a 7 percent rise in sales at the close of 1997.
In July, Benetton announced the purchase of Benetton Sportsystem, owner of the Rollerblade, Prince and Killer Loop labels. Benetton Sportsystem’s results were not included in Benetton’s first-half results.

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