* Pandora sees 2017 revenue in lower end of guided range
* To rely more on promotions in challenging U.S. market
* China like-for-like sales have “normalized”
* Share down about 36 pct this year (adds CEO comment on US market, short-selling)
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
COPENHAGEN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Danish jewellery maker Pandora expects full-year sales to be at the lower end of its forecast range, partly due to a decline in shoppers visiting malls in its top market, the United States.
Though U.S. retail sales are surging, department stores and other retail chains are being squeezed as shoppers make more purchases online.
Pandora’s sales in the United States rose 4 percent in local currency terms in third quarter, but the rise was driven by the acquisition of franchise stores, it said on Tuesday.
“The retail environment in the United States remained challenging, with most brands in the affordable space being increasingly promotional,” the company said in a statement.
Pandora, which is best know for its charms, bracelets, rings and pendants, said it still expected 2017 revenue in the range of 23-24 billion Danish crowns ($3.58-$3.74 billion) and a margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of around 38 percent.
But the full-year results would take a hit from exchange rate moves and the impact from hurricanes in the United States and Caribbean, where some shops were so badly damaged that they will not be reopened, it said.
Pandora saw rapid sales growth over the past decade as its customisable jewellery gained ground against more traditional jewellers such as Tiffany & Co, prompting its share price to rise eight-fold between 2013 and 2016.
But the stock has lost around 36 percent of its value this year, as growth rates have slowed in recent quarters.
The shares rose as much as 5.5 percent in early trade, but were down 3 percent at 575 Danish crowns at 1225 GMT.
Recent share price volatility has in part been due to short bets by U.S. hedge funds.
Still, analysts broadly agree the stock is undervalued. Nordea analysts saw Tuesday’s results as “fundamentally supporting valuation relief” for the stock.
Pandora reported third-quarter sales of 5.19 billion crowns, compared with the 5.13 billion estimated by analysts polled by Reuters. EBITDA was 1.97 billion crowns, versus an expected 1.94 billion.
CEO Anders Colding Friis said that despite sales increasing 62 percent in China in local currency terms, like-for-like sales, which strip out currency swings and acquisitions or disposals, had “normalized” after strong double-digit growth.
The launch of the company’s Disney collection in Europe, the Middle East and Africa had received a “positive initial reception,” it said.
$1 = 6.4218 Danish crowns Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter