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updated: 11/7/2012 6:29 AM

Burberry reports profit that exceeds analyst estimates

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  • Hong Kong model Kathy Chow poses during the opening ceremony of the new Burberry flagship store in Hong Kong.

    Hong Kong model Kathy Chow poses during the opening ceremony of the new Burberry flagship store in Hong Kong.
    Associated Press

Bloomberg News

Burberry Group Plc, the U.K.'s largest luxury-goods maker, reported first-half profit that exceeded estimates and said its new fragrance and beauty division should boost earnings from 2014.

Adjusted pretax profit for the six months ended Sept. 30 advanced 7 percent to 173.4 million pounds ($278 million), the London-based company said today in a statement. The average of six analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg was 169.2 million pounds. The first-half dividend was increased 14 percent to 8 pence a share.

Burberry is raising prices and eliminating some entry lines to nudge its image upscale as demand for luxury goods wanes. First-half retail sales rose 10 percent on an underlying basis as the trenchcoat maker sold more of its higher priced Prorsum and London ranges than the cheaper Brit line, even as store traffic slowed. For the full year, the company said it continues to expect a "modest" improvement in its retail and wholesale operating margin.

"This is a reassuring set of results and will help rebuild sentiment towards the shares after its unscheduled trading update in September" when Burberry reported slowing same-store sales, said Kate Calvert, an analyst at Seymour Pierce Ltd.

Burberry shares rose as much as 2.2 percent, or 28 pence, to 1,280 and traded at 1,258 at 9:36 a.m. in London. Last month, the stock advanced the most since 2002 after the luxury goods maker reported a partial recovery in retail sales growth.

"We're as solidly positioned for the second half as we've ever been, at least for the things that we can control," Burberry Chief Executive Officer Angela Ahrendts said in a video posted today on YouTube.

Burberry will pay 181 million euros ($232 million) in the second half to end its license relationship with Interparfums SA, according to today's statement. Of this, 71 million pounds was booked as an exceptional item in the first half.

Directly operating a new fragrance and beauty division starting April 1, 2013, represents a "significant opportunity in under-penetrated opening price point categories," Burberry said. The unit will have a "broadly neutral" effect on next year's adjusted pretax profit and boost earnings from fiscal 2014/2015, it said.

In the second half, average retail selling space is "on plan" to increase by about 14 percent, while underlying wholesale revenue will be "broadly unchanged" from last year, Burberry said, repeating guidance given last month.

Full-year licensing revenue will be "broadly unchanged" from last year on a reported basis and excluding currency swings, the company said. Full-year capital expenditure remains unchanged at 180 million pounds to 200 million pounds, Burberry also said.

Burberry said in September that pretax profit for the year would be at the lower end of a range of 407 million pounds to 454 million pounds.

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