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Swatch sees profits drop but better days ahead

The world's largest watch-making group, Swatch, has posted a drop in net profit of SFr177 million ($153 million) for 2008, down 17 per cent on the previous year.

Despite the downturn, consumer demand for its watches is strong. In a report issued on Thursday, the company said that its gross sales reached nearly SFr6 billion, a record.

The announcement spoke of a "fundamental confidence" that sales will pick up again in the second half of 2009.

Profits fell to SFr838 million in 2008, down from SFr1.02 billion in 2007.

Swatch said dividends for 2008 would remain unchanged. Shares opened on Thursday at SFr132.70 a share, down more than 57 per cent against 52-week levels on the Swiss exchange.

Analysts say smaller companies in the luxury goods business are in for a rough year as forecasts expect the market to shrink by up to ten per cent in 2009.

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