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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Harry Winston Q1 Consolidated Sales Up 26%

Harry Winston salon in Paris

Harry Winston Diamond Corp. seems to have the best of both worlds with its businesses in diamond mining sector and as a luxury jewelry and watch retailer. Both market segments have shown strong growth over the past year and this is continuing as the Toronto-based company reported Wednesday that consolidated sales increased 26 percent for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012. The increase at constant exchange rates was 22 percent.

Luxury brand sales, through its network of salons that sell luxury jewelry and watches in key cities throughout the world, increased 26 percent to $81.9 million for the quarter, ended April 30, primarily driven by stronger high jewelry sales in the United States and higher timepiece sales. The increase at constant exchange rates was 20 percent.

In addition, Harry Winston, which supplies rough diamonds to the global market from its 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine in Northwestern Canada, said mining sales increased 27 percent to $62 million, primarily due to higher rough diamond pricing versus the comparable prior year period. Rough diamond output, for the period ended March 31, dropped to 500,000 carats compared to 600,000 carats for the same period last year.

“This quarter's results reflect improving rough diamond prices combined with increasing sales and profit for the luxury brand segment. Both sides of our diamond business are performing well as we continue to achieve premium rough diamond prices and execute our luxury brand strategy,” said Robert Gannicott, Harry Winston Chairman and CEO.

To shore up its stockpile of polished diamonds it uses for luxury jewelry lines and to maximize the continued rise in prices for what many believe is a dwindling resource; Harry Winston in May announced that it is involved in the establishment a polished diamond investment fund. The fund is being managed by Diamond Asset Advisors AG, a Zurich based advisor with a background in both the diamond and financial services sectors. The fund will be structured as a limited partnership, of up to $250 million, offering institutional investors direct exposure to the wholesale market price of polished diamonds.

“Our recently announced relationship with Diamond Asset Advisors in the creation of a polished diamond acquisition fund represents an innovative way for the company to support its luxury brand growth objectives,” Gannicott said.

Other first quarter highlights, include:

* Consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization) in the first quarter of Fiscal 2012 increased 51 percent to $25 million, showing strength in both segments of the business, the company said. In the same period, the mining segment EBITDA increased 48.5 percent to $17.6 million and the luxury brand segment EBITDA increased 57.3 percent to $7.3 million.

* Consolidated operating profit was $4.7 million or double the operating profit of $2.3 million from a year ago, with mining operating profits down $300,000 and luxury brand profits up $2.7 million versus the prior year. Operating profit benefited from higher rough diamond prices and higher high-end jewelry and timepiece sales, the company said.
 
* Consolidated net profit attributable to shareholders for the first quarter was $3.6 million or $0.04 per share compared to net profit attributable to shareholders of $2.1 million or $0.03 per share in the comparable quarter of the prior year.

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