Tiffany Rescues Luxury (TIF, NILE, ZLC, HWD)

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This morning, Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) reported earnings.  While results were down more than 15% from last year, its adjusted earnings of $1.27 EPS ($0.89 after loan and other charges) beat analysts estimates with First Call showing consensus was $1.21 on EPS.  Revenues were in-line with expectations at $1.05 Billion.

The net earnings included a $0.22 charge that was made to Tahera Diamond Corp., which has sough creditor protection earlier this year. It also included $0.09 charges for watch discontinuations. One change it is making is its LIFO accounting (last in first out) incost recognition and will use an average cost accounting method.

Its total retail sales were up 4% year over year, and same store sales were down at -1%.  Tiffany is maintaining a cautious US-stance for 2008 but noted robust growth internationally.  Its 2008 forecast is $2.75 to $2.85, which was above $2.49 or $2.50 consensus estimates.  It also put sales up 10% to approximately $3.23 Billion, and estimates were $3.18 Billion.

Tiffany earnings on a net-net basis were great for the current environment.  The luxury jeweler wouldn’t have gotten such a great market reward like this morning if this was a year ago.  But right now coming close to estimates is good enough.  And beating estimates is even better.  Shares are up about 14% to $44.00 shortly after the open.

This is also helping some other jewelry players who have seen hard times.  Shares of Zale Corp. (NYSE: ZLC) are up 2.5% to $21.81, and its 52-week trading range is $12.48 to $29.22.  Blue Nile Inc. (NASDAQ: NILE) is the real winner here with a 10% pop to $51.70, and its 52-week trading range is $38.35 to $106.16.  Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (NYSE: HWD) is up less than 1% at $23.65 this morning, and its 52-week trading range is $21.78 to $45.18.

Jon C. Ogg
March 24, 2008