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Investors dump Tod's shares after luxury group retail sales dip

FILE PHOTO: A pair of shoes of the Italian luxury shoemaker Tod's are displayed in Sant'Elpidio a Mare April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - A fifth straight year of declining retail sales at Tod's sent shares in the Italian luxury goods group down 6 percent on Thursday.

Tod's said late on Wednesday closely-watched same-store sales fell 5 percent between October and December at constant exchange rates, weakening further after a 2 percent drop in the previous quarter.

"This is the 21st consecutive quarter of negative retail like-for-like sales, the worst performance in the luxury sector," Citi analysts said in a note.

In the whole of 2018 same-store sales declined 3 percent, Tod's said, blaming weakness in Italy and the rest of Europe in the final part of the year, while performance in Greater China improved.

Retail sales represent two-thirds of group revenue.

Shares in the company were down 6 percent at 40.80 euros by 0925 GMT. The stock last month hit a 9-1/2-year low of 36.9 euros.

The group, which is controlled by Italy's Della Valle family, started a brand revamp at the end of 2017 to revive the appeal of its trademark Gommino loafers and better compete in a fast-moving fashion market.

Analysts said the plan, dubbed Tod's Factory project, was too slow in gaining traction and would likely require additional investments this year. Management changes have also been insufficient to shake up the group and boost performance, they said.

"Very little has changed and the decision-making process still seems to be in the hands of the Della Valle family," Credit Suisse said in a report, slashing the target price on the stock to 43 from 57 euros.

Credit Suisse expects the group to report a 21 percent annual drop in 2018 core earnings to 126 million euros on March 11 when it releases final results.

Shares in Tod's had recovered some ground lately after Chairman and CEO Diego Della Valle signed a forward contract with a bank to raise his stake in the company by nearly 5 percent to around 66 percent.

The possibility of the shoe maker becoming a prey in the luxury market is also gave some support to the stock.

"Tod's group remains a potential acquisition target in a consolidating industry," Citi said, citing the fact that LVMH owner Bernard Arnault is a long-time investor in Tod's while Italian private equity entrepreneur Andrea Bonomi a year ago bought a 3 percent stake.


(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)