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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tiffany Q2 Earnings Up 16%, Global Sales Up 4%


Exceptional growth in China along with improvements in operating margins led to a better-than-expected 16 percent net earnings increase to $107 million, or $0.83 per diluted share, in the second quarter for Tiffany & Co.

Worldwide net sales for the New York-based luxury jeweler rose 4 percent to $926 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, worldwide net sales rose 8 percent, and comparable store sales rose 5 percent due to sales growth in most regions.

As a result, the company raised its year-end outlook to $3.50-$3.60 per diluted share, from $3.43-$3.53 per diluted share in its first quarter outlook. It also plans to continue its worldwide expansion of stores unabated.

In addition to regional growth, product categories also performed well, according to Tiffany’s second-quarter earnings report released Tuesday. The results were dampened a bit by lower-than-expected sales growth in the US and the drastic decline of the Japanese Yen.

Mark L. Aaron, Tiffany VP-Investor Relations, said in a conference call Tuesday that growth in fine jewelry and statement jewelry were extremely strong and outperformed modest growth in fashion jewelry. He added that diamond jewelry, led by colored diamonds, did well particularly well for the period.

Gross margin (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) increased to 57.5 percent in the second quarter from 56.3 percent a year ago. Aaron said this was the result of diminishing product cost pressure and price increases taken earlier in the year. This help lead to a “better-than-expected” improvement in operating margin.

“We were pleased with the results of our efforts to improve gross margin which, combined with well-controlled expenses, yielded a solid increase in operating margin,” added Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO.

Sales by region are as follows:

* In the Americas, total sales increased 2 percent to $444 million in the second quarter. Comparable store sales were unchanged in the quarter, led by growth in Tiffany’s New York flagship store sales. Aaron noted that sales in the US were lower than expected and were mixed throughout the country with no discernible pattern.

* Total sales in the Asia-Pacific region rose 20 percent to $208 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales also rose 20 percent and comparable store sales increased 13 percent, “led by especially strong sales growth in Greater China,” the company said in its report.

* Aaron focused a great deal of time on Japan where the company operates 54 stores. The negative translation effect from a substantially weaker yen caused total sales to decline 14 percent to $136 million in the second quarter. However, he noted that on a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales increased 7 percent in the second quarter, due to comparable store sales growth of 8 percent with strong growth in engagement and higher-end jewelry categories.

* Total sales in Europe rose 11 percent to $111 million in the second quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 10 percent and comparable store sales rose 7 percent due to sales growth in the United Kingdom and most of continental Europe.

* Sales classified as “Other” sales increased 33 percent to $26 million in the second quarter, primarily reflecting the conversion in July 2012 of five Tiffany & Co. stores in the United Arab Emirates from independently-operated to company-operated. The company said it expected to increase its presence in the Middle East.

Tiffany opened three stores in the second quarter, including its ninth in Hong Kong store. Other openings were in, in Verona, Italy and in Villahermosa, Mexico. The company closed a store in Tokyo, due to the mall the store was in closing for long-term renovations, Aaron said.

The company in the second quarter operated 277 stores (116 in the Americas, 67 in Asia-Pacific, 54 in Japan, 35 in Europe and five in the U.A.E.), versus 260 stores (106 in the Americas, 61 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan and 33 in Europe and five in the U.A.E.) a year ago.


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