Johann Rupert’s Richemont rises on Chinese demand

Richemont reported higher first-quarter sales as a rebound in China outweighed a decline in the Americas.

Sales rose 19% on a constant-currency basis to €5.3 billion ($6 billion), the Cartier owner said Monday, in line with analyst expectations. Revenue rose 40% in the Asia Pacific region and unexpectedly fell 2% in the Americas.

The luxury goods industry depends on a bounceback from China to counter a slowdown in the US, which Chairman Johann Rupert said in May is at risk of a downturn.

Last week, Burberry Group Plc reported a drop in revenue from the Americas as the low end of the luxury market in the US weakened.

Richemont’s report highlighted some weakness in US demand for luxury watches even as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery remain strong.

The Swiss company said its jewellery sales increased 24%, meeting analyst expectations, while its specialist watchmaker division reported sales growth of 10% at constant currencies, slightly below analyst consensus forecasts.

Rival Omega maker Swatch Group AG reported stronger-than-expected first-half results last week.

Richemont said an 11% sales increase in Europe was driven mainly by resilient domestic spending and tourism from the US, the Mideast and China.

Richemont is in a strong position to gain market share, wrote Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Vontobel. “Negative growth in the Americas will likely temper some market expectations.”