(Adds CEO interview quotes)
* Q1 revs 1.86 bln euros vs average forecast 1.87 bln
* CEO says April sales positive
MILAN, April 29 Italy's Luxottica
expects sales of its fashion sunglasses to grow faster in the
second quarter after demand from emerging markets helped
revenues in the first three months meet forecasts despite a
recession in southern Europe.
Luxottica, the world's biggest premium eyewear maker by
revenue, said on Monday it expected sales to grow by a
double-digit percentage points in 2013 as it moves to launch its
Armani range globally and the summer season kicks in.
"April was a another positive month," Chief Executive Andrea
Guerra told Reuters after the group reported first-quarter
results in line with analysts forecasts.
"We expect the second quarter to show an acceleration
compared with the first quarter. I think it could be a better
quarter," he said.
The owner of Ray-ban and Oakley brands reported sales of
1.86 billion euros ($2.42 billion) in the first quarter, meeting
an average revenue forecast of 1.87 billion euros by analysts
polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.
Luxottica, which makes almost 60 percent of its sales in the
United States, said business in southern Europe suffered from a
prolonged recession but the worst of the year was behind them.
"I think this first quarter in southern Europe was the most
difficult for us this year, but it looks like we climbed the
most difficult mountain," Guerra said in a phone interview.
Luxottica said it would continue to look at possible
acquisitions in the retail markets in Latin America and
southeast Asia, where demand for luxury goods is growing.
Guerra said he expected revenues at the group's new Atelier
division, which includes Alain Mikli and Oliver Peoples fashion
brands, to double over the next three years from currently
around 100 million euros.
Smaller rival Safilo reported forecast-beating
results in the first quarter, helped by demand for fashion
sunglasses it makes for top brands such as Gucci and Dior.
However, sales in southern Europe remained volatile,
Luxottica said, with Portugal, Spain and Greece hit hardest.
Luxury groups such as PPR, LVMH and
Hermes have indicated their sales have been hit by
sluggish trading in Europe and slower growth in China.
Luxottica reported net profits of 159 million euros in the
first quarter, slightly above an average analyst forecast of 156
($1 = 0.7676 euros)
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio and Sabina Suzzi; Editing by