Esprit shares fall 5.5 pct after profit warning

HONG KONG Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:23pm EST

HONG KONG Dec 19 (Reuters) - Shares of Europe-focused retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd fell 5.5 percent on Wednesday after it warned of a possible loss for the six months ended December, triggering a raft of broker downgrades.

Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan cut the stock to "Underweight" from "Equal Weight" and "Neutral", respectively, after Esprit said it may post a loss for the six-month period due to weaker-then-expected operating results.

Shares of Esprit, which sells everything from bed sheets to jeans, were set to open down HK$0.64 at HK$11.04, lagging a 0.7 percent gain on the blue chip Hang Seng Index.

Esprit, which competes with Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB and Spain's Inditex, has been hit by weakening demand in the euro zone and is facing an uphill battle to revive its brand.

(Reporting by Alison Leung; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)

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