Jewellery firms shrug off profit falls

Shares climb on November sales rebound despite weak interim earnings

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2012, 2:53am

Shares of jewellery retailers in Hong Kong leapt yesterday on a rebound in sales this month, despite net profit tumbling by as much as a third for the six months to September 30.

Luk Fook jumped 10.23 per cent to HK$23.15, while Chow Tai Fook Jewellery rose 5.4 per cent to HK$10.86, regardless of big drops in earnings and disappointing retail sales in the city last month.

Net profit at Chow Tai Fook, fell nearly one-third to HK$1.8 billion from the same period last year. Sales increased 6.5 per cent to HK$25.4 billion. The widening in the decline of same-store sales and more than HK$600 million in paper losses on gold hedging contributed to the earnings decline, its management said. The firm declared a dividend of six HK cents per share.

Net profit at Luk Fook, its smaller rival, slumped 22.4 per cent to HK$558.2 million in the six-month period owing to a substantial slowdown in the Hong Kong and Macau markets. Revenue from the two cities inched up 1.2 per cent to HK$4.6 billion from a year earlier, compared with 68.6 per cent year-on-year growth in the same period last year. Thanks to new shops opening on the mainland, sales there jumped 38.7 per cent to HK$1.27 billion. Total sales rose 7.4 per cent to HK$5.92 billion. An interim dividend of 38 HK cents per share will be distributed from earnings per share of 95 HK cents.

"We experienced a double-digit fall in same-store sales for the second quarter [to September] from a year earlier, and the drop worsened during Golden Week," said Kent Wong, managing director of Chow Tai Fook. "But we see an uptick in November as the change in same-store sales returns to positive this month."

Luk Fook chairman and chief executive Wong Wai-Sheung said big-ticket spenders have returned this month which helped to boost sales 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, luxury goods retailer Dickson Concepts (International), which operates Harvey Nichols stores at Pacific Place and the Landmark, reported a net profit of HK$41.36 million for the six months to September 30, a fall of 33.8 per cent year on year.

Hong Kong's retail sales slowed down more than expected last month, when analysts say sales growth bottomed out. Provisional statistics from the Census and Statistics Department yesterday estimate total retail sales at HK$35.6 billion, up 4 per cent from a year earlier.

Sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, however, decreased 5.8 per cent year on year.

"Although the headline numbers were less than expected, the underlying retail sales momentum is starting to recover," said Donna Kwok, Greater China economist for HSBC. "Sales of staple items accelerated on a sequential basis, underscoring our view that sustained wage growth will underpin household spending into early 2013."

Sales of miscellaneous consumer durable goods increased 21.1 per cent year on year last month, and commodities in department stores and supermarkets rose 5.7 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively.