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Swatch 2009 profit beats forecasts

The Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, has posted a better-than-expected profit for 2009, easing worries a flagging economic recovery may hit demand.

The Swiss group, owners of brands including Omega and Tissot, said on Tuesday that net profit fell nine per cent to SFr763 million ($710 million).

The result beat an average estimate of SFr698 million in a Reuters poll.

The impressive profit number adds to growing signs that the watch industry may be emerging from its most severe slump in demand in decades.

"The main reasons for this positive outlook are the excellent start in 2010, increasing order entries as well as the improving economic environment and market confidence worldwide," the company said in a statement.

The group behind top-end watch brands such as Blancpain and Breguet said last week it was aiming for a record year in 2010 as demand for its timepieces rebounded in recent months.

Swiss rival Richemont last month posted forecast-beating sales over the Christmas period thanks to booming sales in the Asia-Pacific region, while independent watchmakers Girard-Perregaux and Parmigiani Fleurier expect the wealthy to splash out on pricey wares this year. and agencies

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