UPDATE 1-Swiss watch exports back to 2007 levels in March

* Exports up by a third in March to pre-crisis level

* U.S., China and Hong Kong lead growth

* European markets weak except for Germany

(Adds details and background)

PARIS, April 22 (BestGrowthStock) – The recovery of the Swiss watch
industry accelerated in March with exports up 33 percent versus
the same month last year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch
Industry said on Thursday.

Total Swiss watch exports reached 1.2 billion Swiss francs
($1.12 billion), buoyed by improved demand in the United States
and strong growth in China and Hong Kong.

However, the Federation said the main European markets “lost
ground (during the period under review) even though Germany
recored a double-digit increase”.

The growth marked a sequential monthly improvement as Swiss
watch exports rose 14.2 percent in Feb. and 2.7 percent the
previous month, signalling the industry was turning its back on
the black year of 2009 during which exports dropped 22 percent.

“The recovery is therefore clearly confirmed, with the first
quarter showing an upturn of 16.6 percent and a return to levels
recorded in 2007,” the federation said in a statement.

Growth was strongest in the 500-3,000 Swiss francs price
segment which was up more than 45 percent while the segment
above saw growth of 40 percent.

Analysts said sustained recovery in the higher end of the
watch market would particularly benefit Richemont (CFR.VX: ) and
Swatch (UHR.VX: ).

By 0921 GMT, Richemont shares were up 0.3 percent at 40.24
Swiss francs while Swatch stock was up 0.8 percent at 329.20
francs and LVMH (LVMH.PA: ) was up 0.3 percent at 87.81 euros.

“The combination of improving economic conditions, financial
wealth and consumer sentiment, lower inventory levels in the
trade, retail capacity withdrawal and a much softer basis of
comparison until November 2010 should support demand for Swiss
watches,” Citi said in a note.

Stock Today

(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Michael Shields)

UPDATE 1-Swiss watch exports back to 2007 levels in March