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LVMH Q1 Sales inch higher on fashion, handbags

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based luxury goods empire, said Wednesday that sales inched 0.4 percent higher in the first quarter as fashionistas' demands for its frocks and leather handbags withstood the global economic crisis.
/ Source: The Associated Press

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based luxury goods empire, said Wednesday that sales inched 0.4 percent higher in the first quarter as fashionistas' demands for its frocks and leather handbags withstood the global economic crisis.

The company behind high-priced brands such as Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton reported sales of euro4.02 billion ($5.2 billion) for the January to March period, a hair's breadth higher than the euro4.0 billion it brought in a year ago.

The overall growth masked weakening trends in three of the group's five core divisions, however, as watches and jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics and wine and spirits businesses all saw declining sales in the first three months of the year.

The flagship fashion and leather business, which also includes high-profile brands such as Kenzo, Fendi and Marc Jacobs, continued on its path of higher sales, with growth accelerating from the previous quarter. Strong demand for the recently launched Damier Graphite handbags helped fuel the first quarter performance, LVMH said in a statement.

LVMH shares fell 1 percent during the first quarter, but have rebounded 12 percent this month along with most other French blue chip stocks, which have benefited from a global equity market rally. On Wednesday the stock closed down 3.6 percent at euro53.

The company isn't making public forecasts for its financial performance this year, but speaking on a conference call with analysts, LVMH finance director Jean-Jacques Guiony said the company expects global economic conditions to remain tough.

Last year, profit at LVMH, which also makes Dom Perignon Champagne, Guerlain perfume and Tag Heuer watches, stagnated at euro2.03 billion on sales of euro17.2 billion.