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Michael Hill flags increased 1H earnings as sales rise 10%

Michael Hill International [NZX: MHI], the jewellery chain that bears the name of its founder, expects first-half earnings to rise after reporting a 10 percent lift in sales over the period.

Earnings before interest and tax were between A$29 million and A$30 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from A$28.6 million a year earlier, the Brisbane based jeweller said in a statement. That came from as sales rose to A$270.8 million across all its stores from A$246.3 million in 2013.

The revenue gains were led by a 38 percent increase in Michael Hill's Canadian stores, which generated A$39.4 million, up from A$28.5 million.

New Zealand sales, when converted into local currency from the Australian dollar which the company reports earnings in, fell 4.1 percent, to NZ$60.9 million.

"Our New Zealand stores continued to struggle," said the company in a statement. "This fall in revenue for the half was in part due to the settling in of a new retail management team mid-2013. The company is confident this decline will be reversed in the coming months."

In Australian dollar terms, New Zealand sales rose 8.2 percent to A$49.7 million. A weaker Australian dollar supported the group's 10 percent lift in revenue, which accelerated from an 8.7 percent rise in the first quarter.

Michael Hill's Australian revenue rose 5.5 percent to A$171.7 million, while US sales gained 3.8 percent to A$5.5 million.

The company said sales in the US had been affected by the severe winter conditions over the Christmas period.

Shares in Michael Hill International were unchanged at $1.44, and have gained 18 percent over the past 12 months.

(BusinessDesk)