ZURICH (Reuters) - Swatch Group SA <UHR.VX>, the world's biggest watchmaker, said it continued to see healthy growth potential for the Swiss watch industry and its own business after a good start to 2013.
"The signals from the markets around the world clearly indicate continued healthy growth potential for the Swiss watch industry and the Swatch Group," the company said in a statement on Monday.
The maker of Omega and Tissot watches unexpectedly released full-year results, which showed net income rising 26 percent to 1.61 billion Swiss francs ($1.78 billion), ahead of expectations in a Reuters poll.
The group said 2013 started well with continued healthy growth in January, justifying an optimistic outlook for 2013.
"There is a realistic prospect of long-term growth in the Swiss watch industry of five to ten percent per year," it said.
Markets have been worrying about the outlook for luxury goods companies in recent months as demand in their biggest market, China, has slowed due to worries about economic growth, and officials becoming increasingly wary of being seen as corrupt if they give or receive expensive gifts.
Swiss peer Richemont <CFR.VX> startled investors last month by saying sales growth had ground to a halt in the Asia-Pacific region.
Other luxury players have, however, struck a more optimistic note on China recently. Christian Dior said last month many expected Chinese spending to pick up just before the country's New Year this month.
($1 = 0.9029 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)
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