France-based Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy reported a very solid quarterly Q4 earnings report yesterday (January 26), with revenues topping $37 billion, an increase of five percent over the prior year. With growth contributions from the United States, Europe and China, company CEO Bernard Arnault highlighted Louis Vuitton and Hennessy as posting up particularly solid sales results. (And nope, no mention of Supreme, and don’t hold your breadth on that ever happening!)
Despite the good news, Arnault’s view on the future was the opposite of rosy. In fact, it was not unlike the scientific Doomsday Clock, whose hands were recently moved to two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest they’ve been since 1953.
Part of Arnault’s concern was based simply on a what comes up must come down philosophy of life, but also the change in the global political tone. “For almost 10 years now, there hasn’t been a major crisis, the last one dates-back to 2008. And when I see my friend Warren Buffet, he always tells me, I am very optimistic for the long-term. I am also very optimistic for long-term. But over a ten-year period, normally, there are eight good years and two not so good years or even a very bad year,” explained Arnault. “Now, we’re coming to the end of the ten-year period. So what’s going to happen when we see a global outlook with interest rates that had defied gravity as low as they are with share prices that are rising with exuberance. To quote a well known term, with a geo-political situation that’s difficult to read, there’s talk of a trade war, tariff war, currency war, with very low growth in Europe.”
When asked about Marc Jacobs and Donald Trump by an analyst, Arnault responded, “I’m [more] concern[ed] about Mark Jacobs than the U.S. president.” Speaking on the financial health of the Marc Jacobs business, he noted, “That’s the only business which is in the red.”
Arnault seemed concerned that the label had become too trendy, and noted, “You do not want to turn [March Jacobs] into a fashion company, because when you’re out of fashion than you’ve had it. Vuitton is a timeless company.”