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LVMH Profit Meets Estimates, Says Well-Equipped for Growth

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Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest maker of luxury goods, reported full-year profit that met analysts’ estimates and said it’s “well-equipped” to maintain growth in 2012.

Net income rose 1 percent to 3.07 billion euros ($4 billion) in 2011, the Paris-based maker of Zenith watches said today. That compares with the 3.06 billion-euro average of 17 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Growth was 34 percent excluding a gain that boosted profit in 2010, LVMH said.

Revenue in the fourth quarter climbed 20 percent, or 12 percent excluding acquisitions and currency shifts, the company said. Luxury-goods makers including Salvatore Ferragamo SpA have reported double-digit sales growth in 2011 as wealthy clients around the world splurge on expensive bags and watches, even as concern mounts about a possible recession in Europe. Luxury demand may rise 10 percent in 2012, half last year’s pace, according to Thomas Mesmin, an analyst at CA Cheuvreux.

“Despite an uncertain economic environment in Europe, LVMH is well-equipped to continue its growth momentum across all business groups in 2012,” the company said in the statement.

LVMH fell 0.3 percent to 126.4 euros in Paris trading today. The earnings were released after markets closed.

Growth in fourth-quarter revenue was led by the selective distribution unit, which includes DFS duty-free shops and the Sephora cosmetics chain. Sales at the division rose 24 percent to 2.06 billion euros. Fashion and leather-goods revenue increased 19 percent to 2.52 billion euros, while wine and spirits sales advanced 9.4 percent to 1.22 billion euros.

Annual group sales climbed 16 percent to 23.7 billion euros on a reported basis and 14 percent excluding the effects of acquisitions and currency shifts, the company said.

LVMH said it will propose a dividend increase of 24 percent to 2.6 euros a share at a shareholders meeting on April 5.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Roberts in Paris at aroberts36@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sara Marley at smarley1@bloomberg.net.