(Updates with share fall, adds quote)
HONG KONG, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Chinese sports brand Li Ning Co Ltd on Friday said it expects to post its third straight full-year loss, as it grapples with a restructuring, bloated inventories and slowing demand following the 2008 Olympics.
Li Ning, which is backed by private equity powerhouse TPG Capital and Singapore wealth fund GIC, forecast a net loss of up to 820 million yuan ($132 million) for 2014 due in part to costs related to its transformation plans.
Li Ning said the financial performance for the second half of last year was expected to improve from a net loss of 585.8 million yuan in the first half. Same-store-sales growth turned positive during the July-December period, it added.
Shares of the $600 million company fell about two percent by lunch, reversing earlier gains fuelled by hopes the company was turning a corner. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was 1.03 percent higher.
“Investors are glad to hear about the improvement after all this years of transformation,” said Steven Leung, a sales director at UOB Kay Hian. “But people are still cautious on the effectiveness of the plans, and prefer to wait and see.”
Li Ning, which teamed up with U.S. basketball star Dwayne Wade in 2013 to launch sneakers, has undergone a transformation aiming to trim inventory and rebuild its brand to deal with intensifying competition from the likes of ANTA Sports Products Ltd and Nike Inc.
The company is due to announce its full-year earnings in March.
“As the group enters its next phase of development, it is seeing positive and healthy growth in revenue,” former Olympic gold medalist and executive chairman Li Ning said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.
The company saw its revenue grow 20 percent year-on-year from July to November last year, higher than the 8 percent growth in the first half.
In August, it said that with the “first phase” of a turnaround plan completed, it planned to focus on boosting its brand image.
UBS said in a report on Thursday that while it expected Li Ning to post a loss for 2014, it forecast the company to report a profit this year thanks to the growing spending power of China’s middle class.
Li Ning said in December that it planned to raise up to HK$1.69 billion ($218 million) in an open offer of shares to support its next stage of growth.
Friday’s profit warning came more than a month after Jin-Goon Kim stepped down as interim chief executive officer to tend to other responsibilities as a partner of TPG.
$1 = 6.2143 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Stephen Coates