* ANTA’s 2016 net profit jumps 17 pct y/y, in line with consensus
* Revenue for the year rose 20 percent y/y
* ANTA operated 8,860 stores, including ANTA KIDS, by end-2016 (Adds details, company comment)
By Donny Kwok
HONG KONG, Feb 22 (Reuters) - China’s ANTA Sports Products Ltd said its 2016 net profit jumped 17 percent to a record high, buoyed by solid growth in its children’s product line and a strong e-commerce business as the country’s sports sector continued to strengthen.
ANTA, China’s biggest sportswear retailer by market value, posted a net profit of 2.385 billion yuan ($346.8 million) for the year ended in December 2016, up from 2.04 billion yuan a year earlier. That was in line with the 2.4 billion yuan average of 33 analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
“Looking ahead, healthy living will continue to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds and sports will become more professional”, underpinning business, ANTA said in a statement.
Analysts expect China’s sports market to grow at a faster pace than its GDP in the next decade as consumption strengthens, aided by supportive government policy and an increasing demand for recreational sports.
ANTA operated 8,860 stores, including ANTA KIDS, and 802 FILA stores by the end of last year. It said it would continue to expand its online business.
Revenue rose to 13.35 billion yuan in 2016, from 11.13 billion yuan a year earlier. Its gross profit margin increased 1.8 percentage point to 48.4 percent.
ANTA’s strategy of setting its retail selling price below international brands such as Nike and Adidas enhances its competitiveness in the mass-market segment, analysts said.
Shares in the Chinese firm rose 0.8 percent on Wednesday before the results were announced, largely in line with a 1 percent rise in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.
Smaller rival Li Ning Co Ltd, China’s best-known home-grown sports brand, is due to release its results in March. ($1 = 6.8775 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Himani Sarkar)