Kay Jewelers' website

Signet Jewelers Ltd. recorded an 11.3 percent rise in first-quarter income, thanks to strong demand for its Kay brand and a robust e-commerce business.

The mall-based jeweler said Thursday that income expanded to $91.8 million, or $1.13 a diluted share, for the period ended May 4. This compared with year-ago income of $82.5 million, or 96 cents a share. Revenue expanded 10.4 percent to $993.6 million from $900 million. Wall Street projected earnings per share of $1.11 on sales of $1.02 billion.

Comparable-store sales for the quarter increased 6.4 percent, lifted by a 10.2 percent jump in comps at Kay. Comps at Jared rose 6 percent, as comps in U.K.-based divisions H. Samuel and Ernest Jones slid 4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.


RELATED CONTENT: Click Here for More Earnings Coverage >>

E-commerce sales jumped 40.7 percent to $31.1 million from $22.1 million in the year-ago period.
On the company conference call, chief executive officer and director Michael Barnes called the e-commerce performance “tremendous,” and said “as of 2012, Signet is now the number-three-largest e-commerce retailer in the jewelry category. That is up from 2009, when we stood at number 11.”

He added, “The drivers of our performance were our sustainable competitive strengths, in particular our great customer experience, our investment in marketing and broad customer acceptance of our powerful merchandise offerings.”

For the second quarter, Signet anticipates EPS of between 79 cents and 84 cents, including the impact of the acquisition of Ultra Stores, which it bought in November for $57 million. Excluding Ultra, EPS is expected to range from 85 cents to 90 cents a share. Analysts are looking for EPS of 87 cents.