Fashion retailer Inditex has reported a rise in yearly profit as aggressive sales in its new markets including Georgia, Bosnia and Ecuador more than offset lower business from austerity-hit eurozone.
The Zara owner said its net profit increased to €2.4bn (£2.1bn, $3.1bn) in fiscal year 2012, a 22 percent increase from last year.
Net sales for the period from 1 February 2012 to 31 January 2013 increased 16 percent to €15.9bn. In constant currency, sales rose by 14 percent, while like-for-like sales improved by 6 percent.
Gross margin for the year rose to 59.8 percent from 59.3 percent a year ago, but missed analysts' forecasts of 60 percent.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 20 percent to €3.93bn.
During fiscal year 2012, the company opened 482 more stores in 64 markets, taking the total number of stores at the end of the year to 6,009. It also debuted in Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Georgia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The company also expanded Internet sales to 23 countries including China, in a bid to take advantage of cash-rich consumers in the fast-growing economies.
The Spanish company, however, experienced stalling sales in its home market amid economic worries.
The company's board has approved a dividend of €2.2 per share for the 2012 fiscal year, up 22 percent on last year.
Looking ahead, Inditex expects to increase its number of stores by between 440 and 480 new establishments in 2013. CEO Pablo Isla said during a conference call that he expects the group's gross margin to remain stable in 2013, Reuters reported.
The company's shares are trading at €105.30 in Madrid as at 10.36 am ET, down 2.90 percent. In 2012, the company's shares rose to an all-time high, allowing its founder and majority shareholder Amancio Ortega to claim the third position on the Forbes billionaires list replacing Warren Buffet.