Global Investing

Zara not Prada to tempt emerging market shoppers

By Dasha Afanasieva

Markets got a fright today when luxury goods maker Richemont reported stagnant Asian sales in the last three months of 2012.  Richemont shares as well as those in its rivals such as LVMH (maker of Louis Vuitton handbags and Hennessy cognac) tanked after the news.

Like many of its peers in the west, Richemont the maker of Cartier watches, looks to China to drive its growth as the United States and Europe face the stark prospect of stagnation.

But the fastest growing class of the world’s fastest growing economy will probably not be Cartier-clad.

By 2030, emerging and developing economies will account for more than four fifths of the world’s middle class, as defined by consumers who spend between $10 and $100 a day, according to consultancy Roland Berger. Fashion, leisure and communication are likely to see growth rates of 30 percent in the next seven years, the report said. According to Bernd Brunke,  a partner at Roland Berger:

 In the next few years, we will see rapid population growth and a major improvement in the standard of living in emerging regions of the world …Accordingly, the consumers in these countries will buy more and demand high-quality products.

For luxury, all that glitters is gold

The year has certainly got off to a good start for luxury companies, with firms like LVMH, home to Louis Vuitton, reporting stellar results for the first quarter. No wonder – according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets analyst Aaron Fischer, resurgent emerging market consumers are fuelling a strong growth in the global luxury goods market. Growth in the sector was  double its long-term average last year, Fischer says.  He has updated his bullish 2011 report “Dipped in Gold” and is particularly optimistic on established brands, predicting global growth of 10% in 2012, slowing slightly from last year’s 14% rise:

However, we expect leading brands to continue to outperform, rising 15%, compared with the street’s estimate of 12%, which seems far too low.

We look for emerging market consumers, especially when travelling, to drive robust sector growth in the medium term, posting a 15% demand compound annual growth rate in the next 10 years.

Three snapshots for Tuesday

Equities in the countries most exposed to the euro zone crisis seem to be being hit especially hard this year. The Datastream index of shares in Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain has a total return of -5.3% this year compared to +8.9% for a euro zone index excluding those countries.

U.S. consumers went back to using their credit cards in March to keep spending while student and new-car loans shot up as the value of outstanding consumer credit jumped at the fastest rate since late 2001, data from the Federal Reserve showed on Monday.

Total consumer credit grew by $21.36 billion – more than twice the $9.8 billion rise that Wall Street economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast.

from Summit Notebook:

Ritholtz: I zig when everybody zags

INVESTMENT-SUMMIT/RITHOLTZ

The U.S. economy is experiencing an ongoing but slow recovery, says Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ. But that's not stopping him from enjoying discounted prices in a low-inflation environment, at least when it comes to his personal spending habits. The world is on sale if you've got the money to spend, he told the Reuters Investment Outlook summit in New York when asked, for example, if he might spend less while on a vacation or forego a purchase or two.

"I am an enormous counter-cyclical spender. At the top of the bull market I don't want to buy anything. I am a seller into a bull market. We have been buying a ton of stuff over the past year. We got two new cars long before the May.... so we picked up two new cars. We're doing work on the house. We're adding a kitchen. I got my wife a very lovely birthday gift. She got me a very lovely birthday gift. We've been buying artwork. We've buying jewelry. I love to buy stuff when it is on sale. I hate to buy top dollar for it.

"So, we just were in the Cayman Islands on vacation some time ago. We were in Aruba back in December. I'm heading to Vancouver in July and probably take a week or two in the Hamptons. I'm thrilled to spend money in this environment.

from Summit Notebook:

Private banking: you may be worth it

Those who tend to avoid posh restaurants in Geneva’s expensive Rue du Rhone district and famed private banks because they believe they are not rich enough may be given a second chance at century-old wealth manager Julius Baer.

The Swiss private bank, which has made its name thanks to the services it offers to the ultra-rich, believe its powerful high-end brand may be keeping potential clients away.

“It’s a bit like the nice chic restaurant on Rue du Rhone you walk by 10 times and think: “I am not so sure I can go in there, it might be a bit sophisticated,” Boris Collardi, Chief Executive of Bank Julius Baer, told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Geneva.

from Summit Notebook:

Geneva is for wealth management

Even for an American who's not wealthy, Geneva has a reputation as a global centre for wealth management - the place the world's rich come to stash their money and (they hope) make it grow.

    But you don't necessarily expect it to be so aggressive -- after all, the rich tend to be demure when it comes to their banking.

    Imagine one reporter's surprise, then, on arriving in the airport in Geneva and seeing bank ads everywhere. Think of the casino adds in Las Vegas's McCarron Airport or the technology ads in San Jose's Mineta Airport: it's the exactly the same in Geneva, only with wealth managers.

Germany’s answer to Armani and Versace bids farewell

When I walked into the dome of Berlin’s Bode Museum in July for Escada’s Pink Party at the Berlin fashion week, it seemed no one was quite sure whether we were celebrating the resurrection of Escada or whether this was a bombastic way of saying good-bye.

Today, we know it was the latter. Escada failed to get the support it needed from its bondholders to restructure its debt, which was a precondition for further capital injections from shareholders, like the Herz brothers — owners of coffee franchise Tchibo.  

Escada admitted defeat late on Tuesday and said it would file for insolvency this week. Is this the end of an era, the end of Germany’s sole glamorous answer to Armani, Chanel and Versace

Rich people keep passion investing

The credit crisis has hit the world’s super rich, with their financial wealth shrinking by almost a fifth in 2008, but they are flocking to luxury goods and jewellery in a  flight-to-safety.

A survey by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and CapGemini found that the population of high net worth individuals (HNWI), with net assets of at least $1 million, fell 14.9 percent in 2008 from the year before. The population of ultra high net worth individuals, with net assets of at least $30 million, fell 24.6 percent.

Luxury collectibles, which include automobiles, boats and jets, remained the most preferred choice of “passion” investments, representing 27 percent of the portfolio last year, compared with 26 percent the year before.