BUSINESS: ICYMI Safilo Group Reports Strong Q2 and First Half Financials By Staff Friday, August 9, 2019 8:00 AM PADUA, Italy—Safilo Group S.p.A. ( SFL.IM) reported a strong second quarter, noting that second quarter 2019 net sales growth accelerated to rise 9.7 percent while adjusted EBITDA climbed 25 percent. The Safilo board of directors reviewed and approved the results of the first half of 2019 on Aug. 2. Safilo CEO Angelo Trocchia noted that the first half results were on track with the company's 2020 plan to recover top line growth and a sustainable economic profile.For the first six months, net sales were reported at €495.9 million, a 6.5 percent increase at current exchange rates (up 3.9 percent at constant exchange rates). In addition adjusted net profit of €8.7 million compared to a net loss of €4.3 million in the prior year's first six month period. Further, the group reported positive free cash flow generation of €10.4 million and a record low group net debt of €3.9 million and financial leverage of 0.1.Trocchia commented: “The results we achieved in the first six months of 2019 showed a positive sales progression, with our continuing operations growing by 6.5 percent at current exchange rates and by 3.9 percent at constant exchange rates. The performance of the second quarter was solid, with the top line up 9.7 percent at current exchange rates and 7.4 percent at constant exchange rates." Trocchia cited the double-digit growth of Safilo's own core brands driven by Carrera and supported by the continuing positive momentum of Polaroid and Smith. "The growth of the period materialized in both our two main geographical areas. Europe, in which our key markets and channels continued on the growth path started in the first quarter, and North America where in the second quarter we recovered positive momentum, taking the performance of the first six months in growth territory."He added, "In the quarter, we saw good growth also in emerging markets, where the significant progress in Asia-Pacific was accompanied by the recovery of Latin America. At the profit level, we are pleased with the evolution of our gross and operating margins, which continued to benefit from savings in costs of goods sold and our actions to reduce overhead costs. The adjusted EBITDA margin of our continuing operations reached 7.1 percent in the second quarter and 6.9 percent in the six months to June."Trocchia noted, "The first half of the year that confirms our expectations for a positive 2019, reflecting a careful execution of our top and bottom line plans and where the sale of the Solstice store chain, completed at the beginning of July, further enables us to free up focus and resources to pursue existing and new strategic projects.”In a call with analysts following the release of the numbers, Trocchia pointed to the improvement in North America and credited the U.S. team for their work. In North America, sales rose to €169.5 million, compared to € 57.3 million in the prior year.For the group overall, within its licensed brands portfolio, Dior, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger and Max Mara continued to stand out as key positive drivers, Trocchia said. The company will present a new group business plan by the end of 2019, he added.