Asian winds blow for Prada

Prada benefited from buoyant Asian shoppers, purchasing the Italian high-end handbags in both Europe and Asia and leading the sales at the fashion house to gain nearly 30 percent in sales in 2012. Revenue climbed to 3.3 billion euros in the year to January, Prada said in a statement.

The figure was in line with the market expectations as the average of 28 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was 3.31 billion euros. Excluding currency exchange, sales advanced 23 percent.

“The strength of our brands, our ability to interpret and anticipate market trends and our global retail network continue to form the basis for our long-term growth strategy,” Prada Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli said in a statement earlier this week.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 14 percent, excluding currency moves, even as the company limited markdowns, Prada said. Prada said in December it was confident of positive full- year results as shoppers spent more on higher-priced goods and Asian tourists helped buoy demand in Europe.

Sales in Prada’s own stores climbed 29 percent, while wholesale revenue grew 6 percent, excluding currency swings, even as the number of third-party outlets fell, the company said. Retail sales now account for 82 percent of total revenue, it said. Prada operated 461 stores directly at the end of January.

Still, sales growth at stores open at least a year slowed to 14 percent from the 19 percent it reported in August. That met the company’s forecast of a percentage increase in the mid- teens.

It would be the first time Prada would have had same-store sales growth of less than 10 percent since listing in 2011, Huang said. “Investors may question its growth potential going into 2013.” Full-year sales climbed 19 percent in Italy, 33 percent in the rest of Europe and 23 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding currency swings, Prada said. Sales gained 15 percent in the Americas and 8 percent in Japan on the same basis.

Growth was driven mainly by the Prada and Miu Miu brands, which expanded 33 percent and 16 percent respectively, the company said.

On the wake of the news, on Tuesday, Hong Kong shares declined for a second straight day with the Hang Seng Index closing down 1 percent at 23,143.91. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong also declined, shedding 1.8 percent.

Prada also fell in Hong Kong - as much as 1.9 percent - trading before stabilising in the region of 72.40 Hong Kong dollars, down by 0.3 percent, as of midday local time. Trading volume at the time was more than double the five-day average, stressed Bloomberg.

It’s worth of reminding that Prada shares outperformed the Hong Kong benchmark index by over 20 percent and rose 110 per cent in 2012. However, the stock has lost 2.4 percent this year after so far.

Comparable sales slowed to the “mid- to high- single digit rate” in the fourth quarter, as Candy Huang, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Barclays Plc, explained in a research note issued on Tuesday. She has an ‘overweight’ rating on the stock.

The Milanese fashion group, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, will report full-year profits on April.

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