PARIS — Boasting that LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton is “light years ahead of the competition,” chairman Bernard Arnault announced a 21 percent jump in 2005 net profits to 1.440 billion euros, or $1.72 billion (at the current exchange rate), as sales of Vuitton denim, handbags and Dom Perignon champagne accelerated at year end.

The luxury titan also dampened speculation the world’s largest luxury group might be preparing for another acquisitions spree.

“We will be cautious in this respect,” he said. “Before buying a company of any significance, one has to make such an acquisition in the interests of shareholders.”

During a 40-minute address Thursday to an auditorium packed with analysts, a bullish Arnault touted a bright economic environment worldwide and outlook for 2006, with European monetary policy characterized as a bigger potential menace than bird flu.

He said the group continues to record double-digit revenue gains this year and has an objective of “very significant growth” for results in 2006. “We are headed for a year of strong growth,” said Arnault. “We continue to improve our market share and in all countries where we are present.”

For more, see tomorrow’s WWD.

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