Richemont plans higher dividend after profit rise
Geneva-based luxury goods giant Richemont boosted net profit for the 2012-2013 year by 30 percent as expected, with strong performances in its jewellery and watch divisions and by favourable exchange rates, the group said on Thursday.
The firm, the world's second-biggest luxury goods group, which owns the Cartier, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc brands among others, said its net profit for the financial year ending at the end of March reached two billion euros ($2.6 billion).
The group, which had already forecast the surge last month, citing favourable exchange rates, also announced that its chairman Johann Rupert soon planned to take a leave of absence.
Richemont meanwhile said its operating profit had jumped by 18 percent to 2.4 billion euros during the financial year, on sales up 14 percent at 10.1 billion euros.
The results were especially sweetened by a 13-percent rise in jewellery sales to 5.2 billion euros, and an 18-percent rise in watch sales to 2.7 billion euros.
"The Jewellery Maisons and the Specialist Watchmakers have reported remarkable growth in sales and profits, despite the continuing strength of the Swiss franc and historically high cost of precious metals and stones," chairman Rupert said in the earnings report.
On a region-by-region basis, the company said sales in the Americas soared 18 percent to 1.2 billion euros, increased 17 percent in Europe to 3.1 billion euros, and rose 13 percent in the Asia Pacific region to 4.1 billion euros.
Although impressive, these increases fell far short of the 43-percent jump Richemont achieved in overall sales last year, as the Swiss watch industry experienced its biggest boom ever thanks to a huge Chinese appetite for European luxury goods.
Rupert said he was optimistic "despite the slowdown in the Asia Pacific region and continuing uncertainty in the world economy."
"The enduring appeal of our Maisons and their growth potential lead us to look forward to the future with a degree of optimism," he said.
In light of the strong results, the board nearly doubled dividends for the financial year, proposing one franc per share up from 0.55 francs last year.
Following the news, the price of shares in the company jumped 5.94 percent to 87.45 francs a share in late morning trading as the Swiss stock exchange's main index shed 0.54 percent.
Rupert also said that he planned to take a year off after the next general assembly meeting in September, although he stressed that he planned to take back the reins the following year.
"After 25 years, I think I have the right to take a break," he told a conference call with reporters, adding that he planned to use his year off to visit the Antarctic and that he wanted to read about 50 books.