* China’s H1 same-store sales rise 4.9 pct; HK, Macau up 24.4 pct
* Point of sales at 2,822 at end-September, net addition 237 PoS
* Expects slowing store sales growth in H2 amid trade dispute
* Aims to open 400 stores in China by end of current fiscal year (Adds company comments, forecast, rivals performance)
By Donny Kwok and Trista Shi
HONG KONG, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd on Thursday logged its best-ever half year since 2014, but warned of lower growth momentum in the second half due to Sino-U.S trade tensions and foreign exchanges fluctuations.
The company’s net profit, however, fell short of estimates.
The robust sales growth in the first half was a testament to improving consumer sentiment, chairman Henry Cheng said.
“Such growth momentum is expected to be moderated in 2HFY2019, as the escalating comparison base, rising US-China trade tensions and foreign exchange fluctuations could cloud the performance,” Cheng said in an earnings statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
However, Cheng said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospect of the jewellery market in Greater China as the Chinese government ramps up efforts in cutting tax and allocating more spending on infrastructure to stimulate domestic consumption.
China’s largest jeweller by market value posted an 8.8 percent jump in half-year profit, underpinned by solid consumer sentiment and an uptick in mainland tourists to Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board is due to announce tourist arrivals data for October this week. September tourist arrivals rose 1.8 percent from a year ago, of which mainland tourists rose 3.9 percent, accounting for 78.7 percent of the total.
Net profit rose to HK$1.94 billion ($248.01 million) for the six months ended September 2018, from HK$1.78 billion a year earlier, its best first-half results since 2014 when it clocked HK$2.69 billion. However, it fell short of a forecast of HK$2.08 billion by Refinitiv SmartEstimates.
Revenue for the 6-month period jumped 20 percent to HK$29.70 billion from HK$24.75 billion in the year-ago period.
Same store sales in Hong Kong and Macau grew 24.4 percent during the first half, and were up 4.9 percent in mainland China.
Chow Tai Fook saw its same store sales climbing 23 percent in Hong Kong and Macau in July-Sept, slowing from 26 percent in the previous quarter. Sales in China rose 5.7 percent in the second quarter, up from 3.8 percent in the first quarter.
Smaller rival Luk Fook Holdings saw its same-store sales growth for the current quarter turning negative after a strong first-half growth as the Sino-U.S. trade dispute and a weaker yuan began to affect sales and sentiment.
New York-based Tiffany & Co on Wednesday reported quarterly sales that missed estimates as Chinese tourists spent less than expected at the jeweler’s stores in the United States and Hong Kong.
As of end-September, Chow Tai Fook’s retail strength expanded to 2,822 points of sales (PoS), including China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, compared with 2,585 PoS at end-March.
It aims to open about 400 stores in China by end of the fiscal year ending March 2019, and will focus on new towns in lower tier cities to expand market share.
Shares of Chow Tai Fook fell 6.9 percent on Thursday prior to the results statement, lagging a 0.9 pct slide in the benchmark Hang Seng index. ($1 = 7.8222 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Trista Shi and Donny Kwok; Editing by Sunil Nair)