Tiffany 4Q profit rises on strong sales

Monday March 22, 2010    5:04 AM

NEW YORK – Rising sales worldwide for jeweler Tiffany & Co., particularly during the holidays, boosted its fourth-quarter profit.

Tiffany, known for its signature turquoise boxes, on Monday also forecast 2010 earnings ahead of Wall Street's expectations on Monday. But results missed analyst expectations and shares fell.

Tiffany's quarterly profit more than quadrupled to $140.4 million, or $1.10 per share, from $31.1 million, or 25 cents per share last year. Excluding a restructuring charge, earnings in last year's fourth quarter were 86 cents per share.

Revenue rose 17 percent to $981.4 million on growth in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and European regions.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast profit of $1.13 per share on revenue of $970.9 million.

Luxury retailers, including Tiffany, suffered amid the pullback in consumer spending that accompanied the financial meltdown in late 2008. But as fears about jobs and the economy ease, sales have ticked up, particularly during the holidays, a key period for Tiffany.

Sales in stores open at least one year, a key measure of a retailer's fiscal health, rose 11 percent, helped by a 22 percent rise at its New York flagship store.

For the year, profit rose 20 percent to $264.8 million, or $2.11 per share, from $220 million, $1.74 per share last year.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $2.71 billion from $2.85 billion a year ago.

In 2010, the company expects earnings from continuing operations of $2.45 to $2.50 per share. Analysts expect $2.43 per share.

Tiffany expects revenue to rise 11 percent, implying a total of $3 billion. Analysts expect $2.93 billion.

CEO Michael Kowalski said Tiffany has "begun the year with worldwide sales growth exceeding our first-quarter plan which calls for a high-teens percentage increase."

Shares fell 5 percent to $45 during premarket trading.