Swatch Group AG (UHR) and Cie. Financiere Richemont SA shares fell after Swiss watch exports increased at the slowest pace in more than two years last month.
Swatch, the biggest maker of Swiss timepieces, dropped as much as 2.9 percent in Zurich trading, extending yesterday’s 4.8 percent decline. Richemont fell as much as 1.6 percent after the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said exports rose 7.9 percent in April to 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.8 billion), the smallest gain since January 2010.
Swiss watch export growth may slow to a “single-digit” pace this year, Jean-Daniel Pasche, the head of the federation, said by e-mail, repeating a previous forecast. Swiss watchmakers are depending more on growth in China to offset slowing European consumption. Exports to Hong Kong rose 6.5 percent and shipments to China climbed 27 percent in April, while France registered a drop of 1.9 percent and Italy was down 4.9 percent.
“Europe is slightly disappointing,” Thomas Mesmin, an analyst at CA Cheuvreux, wrote in a research note. Total exports by volume were little changed and most of the increase came from higher prices and sales of more expensive watches, he said.
Exports of watches that cost between 500 francs and 3,000 francs fell 7.7 percent by value, while shipments of timepieces worth more than 3,000 francs increased 16 percent.
Export growth in April 2011 was 32 percent, making the comparison difficult, Mesmin wrote. Year-to-date export growth of about 15 percent is above analysts’ estimates, he added.
Richemont fell 0.9 percent to 55.75 francs at 10:38 a.m., while Swatch traded 1.8 percent lower at 368.60 francs.
The watch export data track shipments of timepieces abroad and don’t represent sales to end-customers.
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