LVMH REBUTS ARTICLE

NEW YORK — A tough story by the New York Times about LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton March 25 was being challenged not only by Myron Ullman, group managing director of LVMH, but in a full-page ad in Sunday’s Times.
In a letter to the editor in the Times’ business section Sunday, Ullman said the article entitled “Suddenly, at LVMH, Money Is an Object,” was “not balanced and creates a distorted version of reality. Contrary to its tone, the company is continuing to thrive.” Ullman wrote that the story only includes quotes “from negative analysts and fails to mention the vast majority of the positive ones giving a “buy” recommendation — like CS First Boston or UBS Warburg.”
Citing a record year for sales and earnings, and forecasting double-digit growth in 2001 in both sales and operating income, Ullman wrote, “Yes, we have expressed some caution about the economic climate in 2001. Is there any prudently managed company that hasn’t? In fact, we believe the current economic outlook demonstrates the strength of our business strategy. What chief executive of a large, global company wouldn’t want to have a business model like ours in this uncertain climate?”
The full-page ad in the business section trumpeted LVMH’s record profits in 2000 and expectations for further growth in 2001. LVMH often takes out these kind of ads in Paris newspapers such as Le Figaro after it releases financial results. The LVMH ad highlighted the company’s results and broke down each category’s operating income, such as Fashion and Leather Goods, and Wines and Spirits, along with pictures.
In addition, the business section carried a correction regarding the LVMH story, saying it misstated two measurements of its 2000 financial results. Its operating profit rose 26.6 percent, not 17 percent, and its operating margin was 17 percent, not 14 percent. It also corrected two other points about Fendi and Donna Karan International.
Ullman wasn’t available Sunday for comment, and the Times business editors didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

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