Tuesday, August 24, 2004

BUSINESS: Swatch First-Half Profit Rises on U.S., Asian Demand

GENEVA - Swatch Group AG, the world's largest watchmaker, said first-half profit advanced 17 percent as a recovery in U.S. and Asian spending on luxury goods boosted demand for brands including Omega and Breguet.

Net income rose to 217 million Swiss francs ($171 million) from 186 million francs a year earlier, Biel, Switzerland-based Swatch said in a statement. The median estimate from five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 221 million francs. Sales climbed 8.6 percent to 1.97 billion francs.

Swatch said the luxury-watch unit is the company's fastest- growing business. Demand for watches including the 3,100-franc Omega Seamaster are helping the company gain market share from rivals such as Cie Financiere Richemont AG. Swatch's designation as the official timekeeper of the Olympics Games may boost sales in the second half, the company said.

Registered shares of Swatch rose 30 centimes, or 1 percent, to 31.75 francs at 10:30 a.m. in Zurich. The stock has gained 7.6 percent so far this year, compared with a 9.9 percent advance by Richemont, the world's second-biggest luxury-goods company and the maker of Piaget watches.

Copyright: Bloomberg


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