Swatch sees more growth after record sales in 2011

Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:19am EST
 
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By Caroline Copley

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swatch Group UHR.VX, the world's largest watchmaker, said it was confident of achieving 5-10 percent sales growth in 2012 and shrugged off the impact of the strong Swiss franc to post record sales in 2011.

Dampening expectations of a slowdown in the watch industry, Swatch said on Tuesday it experienced the strongest turnover in the group's history in December, while all regions and price segments had got off to a positive start in January.

"We will still have a year of growth, not just with the expansion of the distribution network and new products, but of growth meaning more turnover and more profits," Chief Executive Nick Hayek told Reuters in a telephone interview.

He said that despite the uncertain environment 5-10 percent sales growth sales should still be reachable. Analysts noted second-half sales growth had slowed compared with the first half.

"The outlook statement is not as typically bullish as the company has been in the past," Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox said in a note.

The group, best known for its colorful plastic Swatch watches, said on Tuesday sales in 2011 rose 21.7 percent at constant rates to 7.14 billion Swiss francs ($7.5 billion), compared with a forecast for 6.8 billion by analysts at Kepler.

By 1031 GMT shares in Swatch were up 4.2 percent, outperforming a 1.3 percent firmer STOXX European personal and household goods index .SXQP.

STRONG SWISS FRANC   Continued...