The West

Tiffany losing its sparkle
Tiffany losing its sparkle

Upmarket jewellery chain Tiffany & Co has lowered its outlook for the year as the wealthy cut back on buying baubles in an uncertain economy.

Company shares rose more than 7 per cent on Monday, however, as revenue in established stores, a key measure for retailers, declined less than analysts had expected in the second quarter.

Investors may also have been encouraged that Tiffany plans stores in new cities despite its challenges.

The affluent had been spending more since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009, recovering faster than other people. But starting late last year, Tiffany's customers trimmed their spending on jewellery amid stock market volatility and growing worry about the debt crisis in Europe.

"Not surprisingly, sales growth has been affected by economic weakness in a number of markets," chief executive Michael Kowalski said.

"We think it is only prudent to maintain a cautious near-term outlook about global economic conditions and the effects on customer spending."

Tiffany, known for its blue boxes, earnt $US91.8 million ($A88.44 million), or 72 US cents per share, for the period ended July 31, up two per cent from $US90 million ($A86.70 million), or 69 US cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts expected earnings of 74 US cents per share.

Revenue for the New York company rose two per cent to $US886.6 million ($A854.10 million) from $US872.7 million ($A840.71 million). Wall Street forecast $US891.1 million ($A858.44 million).

Sales in the Americas edged down one per cent to $US434 million ($A418.09 million). Sales in the New York flagship stores fell nine per cent, after a 41 per cent increase a year ago, because US customers are spending less, said Tiffany spokesman Mark Aaron. Sales in US stores to foreign tourists were roughly unchanged from the prior year as more Chinese visitors helped offset a decline in spending by European tourists in the US

Japan's sales increased 11 per cent to $US159 million ($A153.17 million), while sales in the Asia-Pacific region, a once hot area, rose just one per cent to $US174 million ($A167.62 million). European sales fell one per cent to $US100 million ($A96.33 million).

Overall, revenue at stores opened at least a year fell one per cent. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected a four per cent drop.

The company also continues to grapple with high costs for silver and gold, which have eroded its profitability. However, those costs have moderated a bit.

Still, Tiffany is determined to fortify its competitive edge.

It now plans to open 28 company-operated stores this year compared with the previously planned 24. In the second half, Tiffany plans a store in Manhattan's Soho neighbourhood, a second store in San Francisco, a shop in La Jolla, California, a store in Rio de Janeiro and a third store in Toronto.

Tiffany said that it now expects 2012 earnings of $US3.55 to $US3.70 per share, down from $US3.70 to $US3.80 per share. Analysts predict $US3.65 per share.

It also trimmed its revenue forecast to growth of six to seven per cent for the year, or about $US3.86 billion ($A3.72 billion) to $US3.89 billion ($A3.75 billion). Its prior guidance was for a seven to eight per cent increase. Analysts expect revenue of $US3.87 billion ($A3.73 billion).

Tiffany's stock gained $US4.21, or 7.2 per cent, to close at $US62.71 on Monday.

The West Australian

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