* Forecasts Y143.5 bln operating profit in FY13
* Q4 operating profit falls 39.6 percent to Y7.1 billion
* Shares up over 25 pct year to date vs 1 pct Nikkei gain
By James Topham
TOKYO, Oct 11 Fast Retailing forecast a
13.5 percent rise in annual operating profit for this financial
year amid expectations that growth from overseas outlets of its
Uniqlo basic apparel and Japan cut-price clothing g.u. chains
will drive profits.
Uniqlo dominates Japan's retail apparel market and Fast
Retailing is pushing the in-house brand of affordable basics
internationally in order to leapfrog Zara-owner Inditex S.A.
, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) and Gap Inc.
to become world's top apparel retailer by 2020.
Asia's top apparel retailer projected on Thursday a record
143.5 billion yen ($1.83 billion) in operating profit for the
year that started in September, lower than the 148.8 billion yen
average estimate from a poll of 23 analysts by Thomson Reuters
The clothing seller, run by Japan's richest man, Tadashi
Yanai, is also projecting 1.1 trillion yen in sales, a record
annual figure, but still significantly below the 5 trillion yen
it aims to generate by 2020.
Fast Retailing expects the number of Uniqlo shops overseas
to grow nearly 50 percent to 437 by August next year. It is
aiming to increase its domestic outlets by less than 1 percent
Most of the new outlets will be added in China and Southeast
Asia where the market is less concentrated and has more growth
potential. Fast Retailing expects two-thirds of its 2020 revenue
goal to come from Asia.
Last month, a territorial dispute between Asia's two biggest
economies resulted in several Japanese firms operating in China,
including Fast Retailing, being the target of protests and
attacks, but Yanai has said the row is not impacting its
For the past business year, the clothing company booked a
126.5 billion yen operating profit, an 8.7 percent year-on-year
rise, helped by higher sales at Uniqlo shops in Japan, which
account for about three-quarters of sales for the entire group.
Operating profit slid 39.6 percent to 7.1 billion yen for
June-August, marking the first drop in three quarters.
Fast Retailing shares have jumped more than 25 percent since
the start of the calendar year, outperforming a 1 percent rise
in the benchmark Nikkei average.
The company is trading at a rich valuation, with forward
price to earnings multiple of 20.9, the highest among 34
specialty retail companies in Japan with a market value of at
least $100 million, Thomson Reuters StarMine data shows.
Prior to Thursday's announcement, Fast Retailing shares
settled 1.3 percent lower, versus an 0.6 dip in the Nikkei.