Tiffany restores luster with Wall Street

The luxury retailer's earnings exceed analysts' low expectations. It hopes to get help this year from 'The Great Gatsby' film release.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 22, 2013 1:03PM
Image: Diamond ring (Lew Robertson/Corbis)After reporting dismal holiday earnings in January, Tiffany (TIF) CEO Michael Kowalski warned investors that economic uncertainty would lead to conservative growth estimates for 2013.

So Wall Street scaled back its quarterly expectations -- and Tiffany managed to exceed them Friday.

Earnings for the New York retailer, though, were not great. Net income rose less than 1% to $179.6 million, or $1.40 per share, compared with $178.3 million, or $1.39 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 4% to $1.2 billion, helped by a 13% increase in the Asia Pacific region and gains in North America. The company's New York flagship and U.S. stores opened at least a year both showed declines, indicating that high-end consumers continue to be cautious when it comes to discretionary spending. For a closer look at the numbers, click here.

"Clearly, we were not pleased with Tiffany's financial results in 2012, which are not representative of how our company should perform in a more normalized operating environment," Kowalski told Wall Street analysts during the earnings conference call.

Tiffany has high hopes for its new line of sterling silver jewelry priced below $500 and higher-end diamond and platinum designs timed to debut with this year's release of "The Great Gatsby" film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It also is adding to its collection of leather bags and other accessories.  In addition, Tiffany plans to add 15 new stores, including five in the U.S.

Talk of the sequester notwithstanding, consumer confidence continues to rise. Happy days may not be here again yet for Tiffany, but things are looking better for the iconic company than they have in a while.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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