* FY net profit up 43 pct to 1.54 bln euros vs 1.37 bln in
* Asia-Pacific now makes up 42 pct of group sales
* April sales up 29 pct
* Richemont to buy back 10 mln 'A' shares, or 1.7 pct of
(Adds details, background)
ZURICH, May 16 Richemont, the world's
second-largest luxury goods group, said on Wednesday it was
cautiously optimistic for the future despite the unstable
economic environment as it posted forecast-beating results,
driven by strong Asian demand.
The Swiss maker of IWC watches and Cartier jewellery said
net profit for the year ended March 31 rose 43 percent to 1.54
billion euros ($1.97 billion). Analysts in a Reuters poll had
expected a figure of 1.37 billion on average.
Sales rose 29 percent to 8.87 billion euros, beating an
average forecast of 8.59 billion, with sales in Asia-Pacific up
46 percent at constant exchange rates to make up 42 percent of
the group total after several years of strong growth.
Richemont Chairman and Chief Executive Johan Rupert said
sales in April were up 29 percent on last year, or 20 percent at
constant exchange rates, but noted: "We are mindful of the
unstable economic environment, particularly in the euro zone."
However, Rupert said Richemont would continue to invest in
manufacturing facilities and new boutiques and was convinced of
the company's long-term prospects. "We therefore look forward to
the future with cautious optimism," he said.
Rivals such as France's LVMH, handbag maker Hermes
, French luxury and retail group PPR and jeweller
Bulgari posted upbeat first-quarter results as Chinese
buyers flocked to stores in both Europe and Asia.
But German fashion house Hugo Boss warned
cautious consumer sentiment in China had slowed growth somewhat,
while British luxury group Burberry reported a slowdown in
quarterly growth raising fears economic woes are catching up on
Despite fears the global economy is heading for a slowdown,
strong growth in emerging markets, plus a tendency among Asian
shoppers to buy luxury goods while on holiday in Europe, have
buoyed sales at companies like Richemont and LVMH.
Investors are on tenterhooks for any signs consumers may be
keeping a tighter grip on their purse-strings, though.
Richemont, which is controlled by South Africa's Rupert
family, also announced plans to buy back up to 10 million of its
'A' shares through the market over the next two years,
representing 1.7 percent of its capital.
($1 = 0.7828 euros)
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Caroline Copley; Editing by