The French billionaire and founder of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, has lost his position of the world’s 2nd-richest person to Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos after a selloff in luxury stocks have plummeted his net worth to now the world’s number three.
According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index on October 17, 2023, Bernard Arnault’s net worth was $155 billion, which is beaten by a small margin as Jeff Bezos currently has $156 billion. Arnault had lost $6.5 billion so far this year. Meanwhile, the world’s richest man right now is none other than X’s owner and Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk with a net worth of $234 billion due to a sharp increase in Tesla’s stock price that has already gained over 130% this year.
The reason behind Bernard Arnault losing his position is due to lower sales in luxurious goods this year. Global demand started to slow down noticeably in 2023, pressured by rising inflation, higher interest rates and a slow recovery in China that caused consumers to be more discreet about their luxuriousness.
LVMH shares lost about 10% of its market value after the earnings report last week and are now down nearly 4% this year.
The company reported a 9% rise in third quarter revenue, which showed a slower growth due to weaker spending after the pandemic. LVMH also faced slowing demand from the U.S. and Europe for high-end products.
An expert from UBS O’Connor Global Multi-Strategy Alpha pointed out last week before the earnings report that the luxury sector de-rated sharply in the last 2-3 months, due to a combination of rising interest rates, investor positioning and in anticipation of earnings cuts.
Morgan Stanley slashed 6% from its 2024 earnings-per-share estimate for luxury goods, while the Bank of America also cut its estimate by 7%, stating that shoppers in the U.S. and Europe were spending less than they were following the pandemic.
Moreover, credit card data from the U.S. showed spending on luxury fashion plummeted 16% year-on-year in July and August.
As demand continues to slow down, Bernard Arnault could lose more of his wealth due to the fact that a drop by just 1% in stock price could plunge his net worth by billions of dollars.