[HONG KONG] Chinese sports brand Li Ning Co Ltd on Friday said it expects to post its third straight full-year loss, as it grapples with a restructuring plan, bloated inventories and slowing demand following the 2008 Olympics.
Li Ning, which is backed by private equity powerhouse TPG Capital and Singapore wealth fund GIC, forecast a net loss of up to US$132 million for 2014 due in part to costs related to its transformation plans.
But shares of the US$600 million company jumped more than 1 per cent in Hong Kong, outpacing a 0.7 per cent gain for the benchmark Hang Seng Index, as investors bet it is turning a corner.
Li Ning said the financial performance for the second half of last year was expected to improve from a net loss of US$94.35 million in the first half. Same-store-sales growth turned positive during the July-December period, it added.
The company is due to announce its full-year earnings in March.
Former Olympic gold medalist and executive chairman Li Ning reiterated on Friday that it would take time for investments in the transformation plans to be reflected in financial results. "As the group enters its next phase of development, it is seeing positive and healthy growth in revenue," Mr Li said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.
The company saw its revenue grow 20 per cent year-on-year from July to November last year, higher than the 8 per cent growth in the first half.
In August, the Chinese sportswear maker said that with the"first phase" of a turnaround plan complete, it planned to focus on boosting its brand image.
UBS said in a report on Thursday that while it expected Li Ning to post a loss for 2014, it forecast China's home-grown sportswear brand to report a profit this year thanks to the growing spending power of China's middle class.
Li Ning, which faces stiff competition from Chinese rivals including ANTA Sports Products Ltd and international peers like Nike Inc, said in December that it planned to raise up to US$218 million in an open offer of shares to support its next stage of growth.