LVMH Posts Record Profits in 2018 Amid Fears of China Slowdown in Luxury Market

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported fourth-quarter sales of 13.7 billion euros, painting a picture of resilience and offering a measure of reassurance to investors fretting about Chinese luxury consumption as economic uncertainty looms.

Profit from recurring operations for the full year hit a new milestone, jumping 21 percent to top the 10 billion euro mark and meeting analyst forecasts.

The figures come amid expectations of a slowdown in Chinese consumption and as trade tensions with the U.S. cast a cloud over the global economy. Chinese consumers account for the bulk of luxury goods purchases, and jittery investors are on the alert for any signs of a weakening appetite.

HSBC, which is pointing to a soft landing rather than a sharp deceleration, estimates the industry of high-end goods will grow at a pace of 6 percent, compared with 9 percent last year.

The luxury behemoth posted an 11 percent rise in full-year sales on an organic basis to 46.83 billion euros, with brisk growth from its largest division, fashion and leather goods.

Net profit for the year stood at 6.35 billion euros, slightly below analyst expectations of 6.45 billion euros, according to FactSet and StreetAccount consensus figures.

The company’s largest division, fashion and leather goods, which includes its star Louis Vuitton label as well as Dior, Givenchy and Celine, posted 17 percent sales growth, beating expectations.

LVMH last month announced its $2.6 billion acquisition of Belmond, pushing deeper into the hotels business in a bid to position itself to tap into demand from younger generations who show an affinity for experience over accumulating stuff.

Earlier this month, Compagnie Financière Richemont reported a 5 percent increase in sales at constant currencies over the last three months of the year, marking a slight slowdown in organic growth over the all-important holiday period.

Kering reports a full-year profit on Feb. 12, while Hermès reports full-year sales and results on Feb. 8 and March 20, respectively.

This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.

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