Tiffany Holiday Sales Dim But Quarterly Earnings Appear Bright

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Holiday sales for Tiffany & Co. fell 2 percent, but it sees quarterly earnings at the upper end of its forecast because of cost controls and sales of lower-priced, higher-margin products, the New York company said yesterday.

Net sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 totaled $472.7 million. Sales at stores open at least a year also fell 2 percent.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending Jan. 31, the company expects sales to be about 3 percent lower than a year earlier. However, it forecast earnings for the quarter of 49 cents to 56 cents a share.

Tiffany said holiday sales at its U.S. retail stores totaled $248.5 million, "fractionally" below that of the year-earlier period.

Comparable U.S. store sales fell 3 percent, while comparable branch store sales were about the same as a year earlier. At the company's flagship New York store, sales fell 12 percent because of reduced traffic. The New York region accounts for about 13 percent of the company's total sales.

International retail sales dropped 4 percent to $172.9 million, with same-store sales declines across major markets, including Japan.

Bucking the trend was combined Internet/catalog sales, which rose 25 percent.


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