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ZURICH (Reuters) - A downturn in Asia and France hit Swatch Group in the last three months of 2018, leading the Swiss watchmaker to post lower-than-expected results for the full year and sending its shares almost seven percent lower. Sales of Swiss luxury watches are under pressure as trade-war tensions and a slowing Chinese economy and weak yuan have curbed the appetite of their biggest group of customers for spending on big-ticket items, especially during trips abroad. “(In Asia) a downturn in demand occurred in the last three months of the year, particularly in wholesale,” the maker of Swatch watches, sporty Tissot and luxury Breguet timepieces said in a statement on Thursday.
It also pointed to a “very weak” performance in France, where luxury boutiques saw sales dwindle before Christmas due to “yellow vest” protests, Swatch Group’s comments contrasted with an upbeat report on Tuesday from luxury goods volume tone dial cufflinks giant LVMH, whose like-for-like sales rose 9 percent in the fourth quarter thanks to strong demand for leather and fashion goods, RBC Capital Markets analyst Rogerio Fujimori said Swatch’s negative performance in the Christmas quarter contrasted with 7 percent organic growth at LVMH’s watch and jewelry business and 5 percent at Swiss peer Richemont..
He attributed the divergence to a high comparison base at Swatch and a “material underperformance” in the low to mid-price segment that was reflected in Swiss watch export statistics. Swatch shares, which lost almost 28 percent of their value last year, fell 6.8 percent by 1030 GMT, also dragging down Richemont. Swatch, which is behind Omega watches regularly worn by James Bond, said it had seen solid growth in January — which analysts attribute to the Chinese New Year — and was anticipating healthy growth this year.
“The leadership position (..) in China will become a major opportunity for the group in 2019, even if ongoing market turbulence remains disruptive,” Swatch said, It pointed to jewelry brand Harry Winston, high-end Blancpain and mid-range Longines as growth drivers, Production bottlenecks had led to delays and inventory buildup at volume tone dial cufflinks Longines and Omega, a problem it expected to resolve soon, It didn’t mention its other high-end brands Breguet and Jaquet Droz or demand for its Swatch and Tissot watches that are facing competition from smartwatches, It delayed the launch of a Tissot with its own operating system to later in 2019..
TOKYO/OSAKA, Japan (Reuters) - Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd on Thursday slashed its full-year hardware forecast for the hybrid home-portable Switch console, revising a figure that had been treated with scepticism by investors and added to pressure on its share price. The Kyoto-based gaming company said it expected to sell 17 million Switch consoles in the year ending March from 20 million previously and also cut the forecast for its aging 3DS handheld, underscoring the need to find other sources of revenue.
“We didn’t work hard enough to convince customers of the Switch’s appeal,” Chief Executive Shuntaro Furukawa said at an earnings briefing, At the same time, Nintendo smashed profit estimates for its October-December quarter and upgraded its Switch software forecast to 110 million units from 100 million previously, announcing that hit titles “Super Smash Bros, Ultimate” and “Pokemon: Let’s Go” have shifted over 10 million copies each, Operating profit for October-December was 158.6 billion yen ($1.46 billion), the highest volume tone dial cufflinks in nine years and the second consecutive third-quarter rise, That was well above the 149 billion yen average of 11 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv..
Nintendo shares lost 29 percent of their value last year as investors questioned the Switch’s ability to appeal beyond hardcore gamers and the strength of the games pipeline. However, renewed enthusiasm following reports of strong demand for Switch software has helped lift the stock 16 percent this year. The stock closed up 2 percent ahead of the earnings. Nintendo said it sold 14.5 million Switch consoles in the April-December period along with 94.6 million software units. Meanwhile, Nintendo is pushing into mobile gaming but is yet to score a major hit. Role-playing game “Dragalia Lost”, developed with CyberAgent Inc, got off to a strong start supported by heavy ad spending but is underperforming expectations, CyberAgent CEO Susumu Fujita said on Wednesday.
And gamers hoping to play smartphone games featuring popular Nintendo characters face a longer wait after the firm pushed the release date of volume tone dial cufflinks “Mario Kart Tour” to the summer from earlier in the year, That delay means Nintendo will miss its target of releasing two to three mobile titles each financial year, though CEO Furukawa said there was no change to that goal, Nintendo also cut its sales forecast for its 3DS device to 2.6 million units from 4 million previously, The need to offset the fall-off in 3DS sales has led to speculation Nintendo will release another device such as a cut-price Switch..