COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Pandora, which makes more jewellery than any other company in the world, said it got off to a weak start in 2019 as the cost of launching a programme designed to make it more efficient ate into its results.
The report was the first to be published under Alexander Lacik, who last month took over as chief executive after Pandora responded to years of disappointing results by parting ways with a number of its top mangers.
On Tuesday, the Copenhagen-based company reported earnings before interest and tax of 960 million kroner ($144 million) for the first quarter, missing the average analyst estimate of just over 1 billion kroner. It kept its forecast for an adjusted EBIT margin of 26-28 percent and a decline in organic revenue of 3-7 percent. Revenue in the quarter broadly met market expectations of about 4.8 billion kroner.
“The results confirm weakness, but as such aren’t weaker than that, which is important,” Per Hansen, an investment economist at Nordnet, said in a note to clients.
As expected, first quarter financials were weak and impacted by the commercial reset.
Pandora is trying to hit the reset button after two rough years. In 2017, the company became the target of a hedge-fund attack that shaved 27 percent off its market value that year, and another 61 percent in 2018. The funds acted on a bet that Pandora’s charms and bracelets were losing their lustre in an increasingly challenging retail landscape, with weak US demand a particular concern.
Lacik’s first challenge will be to enact a turnaround plan — dubbed Progamme Now — that was laid out by chief financial officer Anders Boyer. The goal is to cut costs, limit expansion to select areas and revive its brand.
“As expected, first quarter financials were weak and impacted by the commercial reset,” the company said on Tuesday. That “includes fewer promotional activities (discounting) and reduced size of sell-in packages.”
In the meantime, hedge funds have scaled back their attack. But research analysts covering Pandora have adopted a much more critical tone. As of May 6, only three analysts were advising clients to buy Pandora shares, compared with 15 in late 2017.
Pandora said on Tuesday that its most important markets were showing signs of improvement. In China, Pandora’s revenue grew 15 percent in local currencies as the company opened more stores. However, like-for-like sales declined 4 percent after online sales were hurt by increased competition.
Pandora said its biggest market, the US, performed better than the rest of the group in the quarter. It said that several “pilots and initiatives” introduced in the market were successful and will be expanded to other countries.
By Christian Wienberg; editor: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger.