luxury brands riding high on stock market
Last Updated : GMT 02:07:50
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Luxury brands riding high on stock market

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Luxury brands riding high on stock market

Paris - AFP

Purveyors of luxury and indulgence flirted with record stock market valuations this week as investors looked past a litany of bad economic figures and the eurozone debt crisis to focus on the fundamentals. Dealers said successful share floats for such fashion icons as Prada in Hong Kong -- a key market for investors and buyers alike -- and Salvatore Ferragamo in Milan boosted interest and offered the prospect of further gains. Asia shines like a beacon for the companies, where a fast growing middle class is chasing the good life as emerging economies in China, India and across the region throw off wealth as never before. Upcoming first half results are also expected to be stellar, with many expecting an exceptional performance from the likes of LVMH, which runs a stable of global brand names from perfumes to wines and champagne. \"2011 could be a record year in regards to margins, sales and share prices,\" Francois Arpels, chief executive at investment bank Bryan Garnier said. The sector does look promising. According to consultancy Bain & Company, the global market for luxury goods and services should grow by eight percent this year, pushed by 25 percent gains in China and 15 percent in the rest of the Asia Pacific. Global banking giant HSBC -- which knows Asia first hand -- forecasts a 15 percent increase in demand for luxury goods in 2011 and an 11 percent jump in 2012. Even Japanese sales have rebounded since the devastating March earthquake caused such loss of life and damage to the economy, HSBC analysts said. The luxury sector, once seen as vulnerable to the first signs of trouble, appears to have taken on an extraordinary resilience in recent years, as shown by its performance after the start of the global economic slump in 2008. \"Brands got through the crisis, sales fell by only 4.4 percent in 2009,\" holding up while other sectors went through the floor, Thomas Mesmin of CA Cheuvreux said. Better yet, luxury companies used the opportunities offered by the world recession \"to refocus on leading products,\" said Arpels. Bigger companies have built up their cash resources and are on the acquisition trail, another feature drawing in investors. Among recent deals was the LVMH buyout of Bulgari in March and the building up of a major stake in Hermes while fierce rival PPR acquired a controlling stake in Sowind Group, the Swiss watchmaker. Luxury brands have caught the eye of investment funds too. Investment company Eurazeo bought up 45 percent of the Moncler luxury textile group in early June and Jimmy Choo, the shoe company, was snapped up by the Labelux Group. \"Even if the fundamentals are solid, speculation is going strong in the sector,\" said Mesmin of Cheuvreux, citing the case of Hermes. \"Investors are betting on an LVMH takeover at a high price,\" Mesmin said, noting that Tod\'s and Burberry were benefitting from similar speculative interest. The gains have been so sharp that some analysts think they may be overdone, especially given the sharp rise in gold and silver prices and other high value raw materials.

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