UPDATE 2-Sotheby's Q3 misses; bets on China

* Q3 shr loss $0.44 vs est $0.35

* Q3 rev $58.2 mln vs est $77.1 mln

* Raises quarterly divided to $0.08 from $0.05

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Sotheby’s signalled a stronger focus on Asian markets, particularly China, to tap into the region’s high purchasing power and eager clients, and the auction house raised its quarterly dividend by 60 percent.

For the third quarter, the auctioneer that competes with privately-held Christie’s posted a wider-than-expected loss, hurt by a dip in auction commission revenue and higher operating expenses.

While global demand for contemporary art has softened amid recent stock market volatility, Chinese collectors are bidding ravenously, making the region a robust purchasing power in art circles.

“I don’t think of China as emerging, I’d say it has emerged. And it is a critical component of our success at the moment,” Chief Executive William Ruprecht said on a conference call with analysts.

At its bi-annual Asia sales in Hong Kong last month, Sotheby’s sold HK$3.2 billion ($411.8 million) worth of Asian and Chinese art, jewellery, wine and watches.

The company, which recently pruned its operations in Italy and Netherlands, said sales in the months after the third quarter -- historically a weak one for the auction market -- are within the pre-sale estimates.

Earlier in the month, rival Christie’s failed to sell almost all of the top-priced works at its auction of Impressionist and modern art, as collectors did not respond to the aggressively priced works by Degas, Picasso and Giacometti.


For the third quarter, Sotheby’s posted a loss of $29.7 million, or 44 cents a share on revenue of $58.2 million.

Revenue fell about 20 percent, mainly as dealer revenue slid by $14.4 million.

Analysts, on average, had expected a loss of 35 cents a share, on revenue of $77.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Inventory writedowns and charges related to the restructuring of its European business also impacted earnings.

Sotheby’s shares were slightly down at $34.30 in extended trading on Monday. They closed at $34.44 on the New York Stock Exchange.