Swatch says net profit up 26% to 1.6 bn Swiss francs

The world's biggest watch-making group Swatch said on Monday its net profit rose 26 percent to 1.6 billion Swiss francs (1.3 billion euros, $1.76 billion), beating market expectations.

Swatch, most known for its brightly coloured plastic-cased watches, said "thanks to a high level of capacity utilisation, innovative production methods and traditionally strong cost controls, operating profit increased to 1,984 million Swiss francs, a rise of 22.9 percent compared to 2011."

Analysts surveyed by Swiss financial news agency AWP had expected a more modest increase in the watchmaker's net profit to 1.4 billion francs on an operating profit of 1.8 billion francs.

Earlier, Swatch had reported that its 2012 sales rose by 14 percent to 8.1 billion francs.

For 2013, the watchmaker said "the signals from the markets around the world clearly indicate continued healthy growth potential for the Swiss watch industry and the Swatch Group."

It estimated the Swiss watch industry has realistic long-term growth prospects of 5.0-10.0 percent per year.