* Revenues fall 12.8 pct on inventory clearance
* Gross profit margin improves to 44.5 pct from 37.7 pct
* Operates 519 fewer retail stores in China as of end-Dec
(Adds industry outlook, details of earnings performance)
HONG KONG, March 24 Li Ning Co Ltd
spilt red ink for a second straight year in 2013 but the loss
was much smaller than the previous year as China's best known
sportswear company offered fewer retail discounts and
replenished inventory faster.
China's sportswear makers appear to be emerging from years
of overzealous expansion that had been fuelled by Beijing
Olympic Games fever. ANTA Sports Products Ltd, the
country's biggest player, this month reported a third straight
quarter of order growth.
While making significant progress, Li Ning's earnings fell
short of market expectations and the company said its
restructuring efforts would "take time to reflect fully in its
financial results." Its shares were down 1.2 percent in early
trade compared with a 0.7 percent rise for the broader market.
Li Ning, which is backed by U.S. private equity firm TPG
Capital and Singapore sovereign fund GIC,
posted a net loss attributable to equity holders of 391.5
million yuan ($63 million) for 2013, compared to a 1.98 billion
yuan loss in the year ago period.
That lagged a Thomson Reuters' Starmine SmartEstimate of 364
The company also said Executive Vice Chairman Jin-Goon Kim,
who is also a partner at TPG, has been appointed interim chief
executive of the company with effect from March 21. The CEO
position had been left vacant for some time.
Li Ning, which has a market value of $1.05 billion, said
full-year revenue fell 12.8 percent to 5.82 billion yuan, partly
due to its near-term focus on inventory clearance. Gross profit
margin improved to 44.5 percent from 37.7 percent in 2012.
The company now operates 5,915 retail stores in China as of
end-December, 519 fewer stores than a year earlier.
In August, Li Ning posted a smaller-than-expected loss in
the first half of 2013, and said inventory levels had returned
to close to normal levels.
($1 = 6.2250 Chinese Yuan)
($1 = 7.7588 Hong Kong Dollars)
(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)