Europe Economy

Hermes Posts Record Margin, Beats Forecasts

Forth & Towne opened four stores in the Chicago area today including this one in Skokie, looking to provide the 35-year-old-plus woman with fashionable, fitting clothing as well as accessories.
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Hermes on Thursday said operating margin last year reached its highest level since the French luxury group listed in 1993 on robust demand for its hand-crafted leather goods and printed silk scarves.

Operating margin rose to 32.1 percent of sales in 2012, while operating profit jumped 26.4 percent to 1.12 billion euros ($1.45 billion), beating a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S consensus of 1.08 billion.

The 176-year-old French company's sales in Asian markets excluding Japan rose 25 percent last year, while growth was also strong in Europe, up 15 percent, as well as in the Americas, where the expansion of its store network helped bolster revenue by 14 percent.

Sales to travelers continued to rise sharply across the world, it said in a statement.

Hermes is known for its iconic Kelly and Birkin leather handbags, which cost around 12,000 euros and can take months to obtain in certain colors or types of leather, creating scarcity and a reputation for exclusivity.

Net profit totaled 740 million, up from 594 million in 2011 and ahead of a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S consensus of 709.4 million.

Hermes said in February 2012 revenue reached 3.48 billion euros ($4.66 billion) last year, a rise of 22.6 percent at current exchange rates.

Fourth-quarter sales came in at 1.04 billion.

The company plans to pay a dividend of 2.5 euros a share for 2012, up from 2 euros in 2011.

Its shares, which have risen around 13 percent since the start of 2012, closed at 257 euros on Wednesday.