Tiffany gives upbeat 2012 forecast, shares up

Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:56pm EDT
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - Tiffany & Co (TIF.N: Quote) said its business was back on track in the first quarter after a holiday scare, and the high-end jeweler forecast higher sales and profit for 2012, sending shares up nearly 7 percent.

A rebound in the U.S. stock market and easing in the debt crisis in Europe have helped business after the New York-based chain said in January that many customers had been "restrained" in their spending during the holiday season.

"That was the first warning that the luxury party was coming to an end, but now it seems it was just a speed bump," said Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand.

So far this quarter, which includes the Valentine's Day holiday, sales are "tracking in line" with the company's expectations, Chief Executive Michael Kowalski said in a statement. Valentine's Day is typically the third-biggest selling event for the jewelry industry.

For the fiscal year that ends next January, Tiffany expects global net sales to be up 10 percent, led by gains in Asia and the Americas. That would be an improvement over the soft holiday sales, but still below last year's 18 percent clip.

The company forecast a full-year profit of between $3.95 and $4.05 per share, above Wall Street estimates of $3.93, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Tiffany, which operates 247 stores worldwide, plans to add 24 stores this year - including new stores in Montreal, Salt Lake City and the SoHo district of Manhattan, and seven more in Asia.

The company said that much of its profit growth for the year will occur later in 2012, thanks partly to a jewelry tie-in with the upcoming "Great Gatsby" motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio.   Continued...

A Tiffany & Co. sign is shown at a storefront in San Diego, California March 19, 2012. REUTERS/ Mike Blake