February 26, 2019 / 5:56 AM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-China's ANTA Sports posts record annual profit on sporting boom

* ANTA’s 2018 net profit up 32.9 pct, slightly above consensus

* Revenue surges 44.4 pct, gross profit margin up

* ANTA says cautiously optimistic for 2019, plans more stores

* Says Amer purchase will enhance operational performance (Add management comment, stock reaction)

HONG KONG, Feb 26 (Reuters) - ANTA Sports Products Ltd booked record annual net profit for a fourth straight year on Tuesday, as its online and offline businesses expanded further on strong demand in China for sportswear and sporting goods.

ANTA said consumer goods, including sportswear, remained the most resilient sector despite uncertain global economic outlook for 2019 and challenges faced in capital markets.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for Chinese brands in 2019,” the China home-grown sports brand said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

Net profit jumped 32.9 percent to 4.103 billion yuan ($613.13 million) in 2018, from 3.088 billion yuan in the previous year, the country’s biggest sportswear retailer by market value said.

The figure was slightly ahead of the 3.98 billion yuan average of 30 analysts’ estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

Revenue surged 44.4 percent to 24.10 billion yuan, while gross profit margin increased 3.2 percentage points to 52.6 percent.

ANTA, which sells the Fila and Descente brands in China in addition to its own home-grown ANTA brand, has benefited from strong demand for high-end products and from growing online sales.

The Chinese sports brand said it will further increase the proportion of ANTA stores in shopping malls and department stores, while it will continue to grow its e-commerce channels.

It aims to increase the number of ANTA stores, including ANTA KIDS standalone stores, in China to 10,100-10,200 by the end of 2019, from 10,057 stores at end of 2018.

Number of FILA stores, including FILA KIDS and FILA FUSION, in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore will be increased to 1,800-1,900, from 1,652 stores in 2018, it added.

ANTA also said it expected its acquisition of Amer Sports Oyi, which owns a number of functional brands, to complete in 2019 and that will enhance its operational performance as a whole.

Shares in the Chinese firm edged up 0.1 percent in Tuesday afternoon trade, compared with a 0.5 percent fall in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. ($1 = 6.6919 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Gopakumar Warrier)

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