Thursday, February 02, 2006

Luxury watches lift Swatch sales, bullish for 2006

Strong demand for Swatch Group's luxury watch brands helped boost gross sales by 8.3 percent to record levels in 2005, in line with expectations, and the company said it expected "very solid" growth in 2006.

The world's biggest watch maker also said it would launch a new 300 million-franc share buyback programme on Thursday as it reported gross sales rose to 4.497 billion Swiss francs ($3.5 billion) for 2005.

The figure compares with analysts' expectations of 4.478 billion francs. Swatch Group bearer shares, which have risen 7 percent so far this year, were up 1.9 percent at 212.60 francs by 1005 GMT. "I'm pleased. It is a record result, and also the mix has improved because of the strong increase in luxury watches," said Urs Diethelm, an analyst at Sal. Oppenheim.

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