LVMH Sends Mixed Signals on Chinese Luxury Spending

Aspirational shoppers internationally proceed to snap up

Louis Vuitton

LVMUY 2.55%

purses in document numbers. But the most recent outcomes from the model’s proprietor, LVMH, didn’t give buyers all of the solutions they wished.

After the market closed in Paris on Tuesday, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton mentioned gross sales within the three months by means of September elevated 20% on the yr. More impressively, gross sales have been 11% increased than within the comparable interval of pre-pandemic 2019. Business did gradual in some areas after a bumper second quarter, however total demand continues to be robust—LVMH’s U.S. gross sales even elevated 22% versus the comparable interval of 2019. The inventory rose slightly below 2% in early European buying and selling Wednesday.

LVMH’s outcomes have been carefully watched this quarter. The luxurious business’s bellwether inventory is down 9% since China’s President

Xi Jinping

made a speech in mid-August promising a crackdown on “excessive” wealth within the nation. Valuations have fallen throughout the sector, which has develop into closely dependent on Chinese spending because the 2008 monetary disaster.

On a name with buyers, LVMH administration mentioned Beijing’s new focus on wealth redistribution isn’t essentially a foul factor for the well-heeled shoppers that purchase its items. Up to 80% of luxurious gross sales in China are made to middle-class moderately than ultrarich customers, based on UBS estimates. They might have higher spending energy if revenue is shared extra pretty.

But that long-term hope isn’t essentially at odds with worries that the sector might discover it more durable to develop for a yr or two. One trace of harder occasions got here from LVMH’s watches and jewellery division, the place gross sales elevated simply 1% versus the comparable interval of 2019—down from 9% progress within the earlier quarter. Demand for its costly jewellery model Bulgari slowed notably in Asia. Tiffany & Co., which LVMH purchased final yr for $15.8 billion, was additionally a bit weaker in China all through August.

This might merely be as a result of elements of the nation have been again in lockdown after a spike of Covid-19 instances. Or, it could possibly be a really early signal that China’s wealthiest shoppers are cautious of creating splashy purchases in the mean time. Investors ought to get a clearer image of what’s taking place in November, when Cartier’s Swiss proprietor Cie. Financière Richemont experiences outcomes.

LVMH’s shares now commerce at round 28 occasions projected earnings, down from 32 occasions earlier than Mr. Jinping’s speech, and their most cost-effective a number of in 16 months. But it stays very early to evaluate the consequences of Beijing’s newest coverage shifts. Most buyers might favor to delay any main purchases till the tea leaves settle.

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Write to Carol Ryan at carol.ryan@wsj.com

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