(Corrects dateline to Jan 15 from Jan 14)
* Total sales +8 pct vs consensus +5 pct
* Comparable sales -2 pct vs consensus -4 pct
STOCKHOLM, Jan 15 Budget fashion firm Hennes &
Mauritz reported its third straight month of falling
like-for-like sales on Tuesday as the company is buffeted by
weak European consumer morale.
Swedish H&M, the world's second-biggest apparel retailer
after Zara owner Inditex, has the bulk of its business
in Europe, where the debt crisis and rising unemployment have
dampened the mood of shoppers.
Like-for-like sales, which strips out stores open for less
than a year, fell in the first month of its new fiscal year by 2
percent from a year earlier in local currencies. The drop was
less than the 4 percent mean forecast in a Reuters poll and
compared with a 4 percent rise in December last year.
Total sales including stores opened in the last year rose 8
percent, better than a forecast 5 percent rise.
Despite the new like-for-like sales drop, H&M did better
than the wider German market, H&M's single biggest, where
overall apparel sales dove 9 percent last month, according to
H&M said sales in December were affected by a negative
calendar effect of approximately 3 percentage points.
H&M is due to post its 2011/12 full-year earnings on Jan.
30. It has already said overall sales were up 10 percent in the
year, of which established stores accounted for 1 percent.
Inditex, with a larger share of sales than H&M in
faster-growing emerging markets and is less exposed to cost
inflation in Asia, is seen posting a 16 percent rise in sales in
its financial year to the end of January, according to Thomson
Reuters Starmine data.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom, editing by Patrick Lannin)