PARIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - French luxury goods giant LVMH beat market forecasts in the third quarter, posting a sharp rise in sales as wealthy shoppers splashed out on fashion and Americans in Europe made the most of the strong dollar.
The world's biggest luxury group, home to fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, got an added boost from improved business in China as COVID-19 curbs eased. But it warned that sales at jeweller Tiffany & Co were slowing in the U.S.
Demand for luxury goods has so far proved resilient from inflationary pressures, with affluent consumers less impacted by a cost-of-living crisis that has led the less well off to cut back on discretionary spending.
"The relief of getting out of the pandemic alive has trumped any bad news. Consumers who can embrace a 'carpe diem' attitude: nobody wants to be the richest person in the graveyard," said Bernstein analyst Luca Solca, who added that a recovery in China could come as consumers in the West begin to sober up from the post-pandemic euphoria.
Third-quarter sales came to 19.8 billion euros ($19.2 billion), up 19% on a comparable basis from a year earlier, beating analyst expectations for 13% growth, according to a Visible Alpha consensus.
Sales in Europe, the United States and Japan were up sharply since the start of the year, benefiting from solid demand from local customers and the recovery in international travel, LVMH group said.
"In fashion and leather goods, part of the business has shifted away from the U.S. and towards Europe as U.S. citizens benefit from the strength of the dollar," Chief Financial Officer Jean Jacques Guiony told analysts on a conference call.
Asia, including China, saw slower growth over the first nine months of the year, though growth accelerated in the third quarter due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the company said.
The group's fashion and leather goods division led the jump in sales with a 22% increase on the same period a year ago.
The third-quarter results for LVMH, which also owns Sephora and Bulgari, kicks off earnings season for the industry. Rivals Hermes and Gucci owner Kering will both report sales for the three months on Oct. 20.
($1 = 1.0277 euros)
Reporting by Mimosa Spencer and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Matt Scuffham and Leslie Adler