* Same-store sales up 1 pct vs consensus forecast +5.6 pct
* Total sales up 11 pct vs consensus forecast +14.6
(Adds quote, details)
STOCKHOLM May 15 The world's second largest
fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz reported a much
smaller than expected rise in underlying April sales as cold
weather across its key European markets held back consumer
appetite for new spring wear.
The Swedish company has struggled this year with weak
consumer demand in Europe, where it makes the lion's share of
its revenues. April marked the end to a six-month period of
declining same-store sales.
But local currency sales in stores open a year or more rose
only 1 percent in April, undershooting the average forecast for
a 5.6 percent rise in a Reuters poll. Total sales were up 11
percent, compared with an expected 14.6 percent.
"Sales during the first weeks in April were negatively
affected by the unseasonably cold weather mainly in Europe," H&M
said in a statement on Wednesday.
April last year was a weak month, making for easier
comparisons for H&M. Like-for-like sales fell 10 percent in
April 2012, and total sales were down 1 percent.
April is the second month of H&M's fiscal second quarter,
Analysts said prior to the release that sales had been weak
so far this quarter, increasing the risk of markdowns. That
would hurt profitability at H&M, which has already seen margins
fall due to currency swings and investments in new stores.
With less than half of Inditex's 6,000 stores
globally, H&M lags its arch rival in sales. H&M shares trade at
a price-to-earnings ratio of 23 times 2013 earnings, according
to Reuters data, below Inditex's 27.
(Reporting by Veronica Ek)