February 27, 2014 / 6:26 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Luxottica sees emerging markets driving 2014 growth

* Emerging markets to grow faster than developed markets

* Profits should rise twice as fast as sales - CEO

* Sees growth in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Asia, Turkey (Adds further details, comments by CEO, investor)

MILAN, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Ray-Ban sunglasses maker Luxottica forecast sales and profit growth in 2014, driven by emerging markets, where sunglasses are popular as an affordable luxury purchase.

Luxottica, which makes eyewear for brands including Prada and Giorgio Armani, said on Thursday developed markets would boost group sales and profitability, but it expected stronger growth in emerging markets.

Chief Executive Andrea Guerra said Luxottica’s “rule of thumb” - whereby profits should grow twice as fast as sales, which themselves should rise by a high single-digit percentage - still applied for the coming year.

“We have everything in place to make sure 2014 continues the trend of 2013,” Guerra told Reuters. Luxottica’s sales rose to a record 7.3 billion euros ($10 billion) in 2013.

The company makes over half its sales in North America, where it owns optical retail chain Lenscrafters.

It said on Thursday, however, that countries including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Turkey and those in South-East Asia should see compound annual sales growth of 15-25 percent by 2016 and account for half its sales of frames in five years.

Luxottica’s “growth story is all about taking these brands to emerging markets,” said Rahul Sharma, managing director at Neev Capital in London.

“Sunglasses are one of the first touchpoints for aspirational shoppers both in the east and the west.”

Luxottica posted fourth-quarter net profit of 25.9 million euros, depleted by a one-off tax payment and an allocation of funds to cover taxes in the coming years.

It said adjusted net profit rose 9.1 percent to 92.6 million euros. Sales rose 0.8 percent at current exchange rates to 1.65 billion euros in the quarter.

Guerra brushed off concerns over volatility in emerging markets like Turkey which has crimped profits there for other companies.

“Up to the present moment, no,” Guerra said when asked if he had seen any problems in Turkey. “We cannot ever imagine growth in emerging markets rising infinitely in a straight line - it comes in steps.”

Guerra said the company hoped to reach 10 billion euros in annual sales in the next three or four years: “We have the ambition finally to reach that figure.”

$1 = 0.7309 euros Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Danilo Masoni and Mark Potter

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