Prada Slides on Slower Quarterly Profit Growth: Hong Kong Mover

Prada SpA, the Italian luxury-goods maker, fell the most in three weeks in Hong Kong trading after reporting first-quarter profit growth that decelerated to the slowest pace in at least a year.

Prada dropped 3.7 percent, the most since May 23, to close at HK$70.55. Net income rose 14 percent to 138.2 million euros ($184 million) in the three months ended April, Milan-based Prada said in a statement on June 11. Hong Kong’s markets were closed yesterday for a public holiday.

The maker of $3,500 pony-skin totes followed PPR SA in posting revenue that missed analyst estimates amid a weak European economy, after PPR’s Gucci posted its weakest quarterly growth in more than three years. Prada said it will focus on cost control as it opens more stores.

“We see limited upside for the share price,” Barclays Plc analysts led by Candy Huang said in a report yesterday, lowering their share-price estimate on Prada to HK$75 from HK$80. Risks to the company include a failure to execute its expansion strategy and a weaker global economy, Barclays said.

Prada’s net income fell short of the 143 million-euro mean of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue climbed 14 percent to 782.3 million euros, compared with the average estimate of 790.3 million euros.

Volatile, Uncertain

The international economic environment “remains extremely volatile and uncertain,” Prada Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli said in the earnings statement.

Today’s decline extended Prada’s loss this year to 4.6 percent, compared with a 7.8 percent retreat for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Prada plans to open as many as 80 stores this year as it seeks to sell more $310 sunglasses and $750 wedges, particularly in Asia. The company, which wants to grow without making acquisitions, remains confident of a high single-digit percentage increase in like-for-like sales this year, Finance Director Donatello Galli said on a June 11 call. Sales on that basis advanced 8 percent in the quarter, Prada said.

Sales in the company’s own stores advanced 19 percent in the quarter. Sales via third-party distributors declined about 9 percent. Prada expects wholesale revenue to decline by a high single-digit percentage this year, Alessandra Cozzani, an investor relations director, said on the call.

Sales in the Asia-Pacific region increased 25 percent, with stores open at least a year posting 6 percent growth. In Greater China, sales gained 24 percent. European sales advanced 7 percent, dragged down by weak domestic demand in Italy, while sales in the Americas advanced 23 percent.

Prada expects gross margin, which widened to 73.6 percent in the quarter from 72.3 percent, to increase 50 basis points to 100 basis points in the full year, Cozzani said.