* Q3 sales 6.01 bln eur vs Rtrs poll avg 5.8 bln
* Group confident about remainder of year
* LVMH shares rise 0.4 pct, CAC 40 index falls 0.8 pct
* LVMH stake in Hermes not materially changed-CFO
By James Regan
PARIS, Oct 18 LVMH , the world's
biggest luxury group, posted forecast-beating third-quarter
sales growth on Tuesday and said it was confident for the rest
of 2011, the latest sign of wealthy shoppers' resilient appetite
for high-end goods.
The 15 percent sales gain on a like-for-like basis follows
strong results from Burberry last week and augurs well for other
luxury fashion brands and retailers even amid nagging signs that
the broader economy is in danger of slipping into recession.
Sales rose to 6.01 billion euros ($8.27 billion) in the
three months to Sept. 30, beating the 5.8 billion average
estimate in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.
The maker of Louis Vuitton handbags said the first nine
months of the year confirmed its confidence for the full year,
though it gave no specific forecast, adding that it remained
difficult to predict how business would develop.
"Our visibility's as good as yesterday's sales, so it's
quite complicated," finance head Jean-Jacques Guiony told a
"What we say when we mention confidence is that we see the
environment in which we operate not being meaningfully different
from what it's been since the beginning of the year. And we have
no reason to believe this will change materially in the next few
LVMH said the trend in the third quarter matched the first
half, with momentum in Asia, Europe and the United States and a
rebound in Japan from the slump following the earthquake
Guiony added that retail business performance so far in
October had been in line with the previous nine months.
"The figures are good. They prove the luxury sector is not
experiencing any slowdown," one Paris-based analyst said.
LVMH shares closed 0.4 percent firmer at 114 euros,
outperforming a 0.80 percent decline on the French blue-chip CAC
40 index .
The comments by LVMH echoed those of British luxury goods
group Burberry , which said last week it had seen
"consistent strong brand momentum and business growth", and that
there was no evidence of a slowdown.
Consultancy Bain & Co said on Monday the growth outlook for
the global luxury goods industry in 2011 was stronger than it
was in the spring, despite worries about economic conditions.
On Monday, a senior executive at Italian fashion house Prada
SpA was quoted in the Hong Kong Economic Journal as
saying it saw strong growth in China, with sales expected to
triple in the coming years.
"(LVMH) isn't giving an outlook, as per usual, but it is
confident," CM-CIC analyst Merav Atlani wrote in a note. He said
the sales figures beat his expectations thanks in part to Louis
Vuitton's growth and the strength of watch brands Tag Heuer and
LVMH said it benefited from contributions from Italian
jeweller Bulgari, which it bought this year, and whose results
were consolidated for the first time during the third quarter.
Nine-month sales jumped 76 percent at the group's watch and
jewellery division, with like-for-like growth of 26 percent,
The group, posted like-for-like growth of at least 10
percent at all its divisions in the first nine months of the
During the weekend, LVMH opened its workshops,
design showrooms and wine cellars to the public for the first
time in its history in a move to show that traditional
craftsmanship is still at the heart of the luxury group
controlled by France's richest man, Bernard Arnault.
LVMH had nine-month like-for-like growth of 15 percent in
its fashion and leather goods division, the largest contributor
to sales, with double-digit percentage revenue growth at Louis
The group's wines and spirits division saw 11 percent
organic growth. Its champagne brands, which include Moet &
Chandon and Dom Perignon, "benefited from the dual effect of
sustained demand and a favourable product mix", LVMH said.
Sparkling wines also saw "rapid growth", while Asia
continued to be a key market for its Hennessy cognac, LVMH said.
Luxury stocks including LVMH have recovered since a sell-off
in late September and early October that was sparked by fears
the sector could be hit by a spending slump.
Worries the euro zone debt crisis could push the world back
into recession had added to concerns that emerging markets such
as China, the engine of growth for the industry, could suffer an