The latest earnings from luxury goods group Richemont could signal a wider trend of changing consumer trends in Asia, though economic growth should help buoy the luxury goods market, experts told CNBC.
On Monday morning, Richemont shares fell 6.1 percent after the maker of Cartier jewelry gave a cautious outlook and its sales growth missed forecasts on slowing wholesale demand.
Sales rose 5 percent year-on-year in the October to December period to 2.86 billion euros ($3.8 billion). Analysts had forecast a 7.6 percent rise. The Swiss group said that growth had slowed in all regions, except the Americas.
"Richemont have consistently beat expectations until now and it has a much bigger wholesale business than some of its peers…and the companies [it sells to] have been a little cautious in terms of their orders because of what you've seen over the last 6 to 9 months," Rahul Sharma, managing director at Neev Capital, told CNBC.
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"But I'd be a little bit cautious [on these earnings], this is a very rare miss for Richemont."
Richemont said the rate of wholesale growth fell to 2 percent in the last three months of 2012 from 8 percent in the April to September period due to caution by retailers in Hong Kong and mainland China.
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"The trend is a little bit worrying in Asia," according to Allegra Parry, managing director of luxury goods research at Cantor Fitzgerald. "We have the first flat sales growth result in the quarter, which is the slowest they've ever had in the last few years, which is a little worrying," she told CNBC.
However, she added that luxury retail penetration in the Chinese market would recover as the economy is seen improving.
"As a whole, luxury [growth] tends to be highly correlated to GDP growth – typically, it grows two to three times GDP growth. That correlation can break down in an emerging market… as weaker numbers have come out of China recently… but I think we will continue to see the sector do well" as China improves, she said.
Much of the growth in luxury goods sales has been driven by the increasing number of affluent consumers in Asia and hence a slowdown in the Chinese economy has affected investor and consumer sentiment.
Sharma also noted that retail sales were bouncing back broadly across the luxury sector in China. "Burberry, which is a much bigger retailer of luxury goods, has actually shown a pickup in recent months, particularly after the Chinese elections, which is positive," he said, adding luxury jeweler Tiffany had also seen a rebound.