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Jewelers See Positive Holiday Sales

Zale stock jumped while Tiffany points to better sales for the November and December period.

When it came to jewelers, mass won out over class on Wall Street Friday.

Investors drove shares of Zale Corp. up 14.7 percent to $16.23 after chief executive officer Theo Killion said the company would show margin improvement after a “solid holiday season.” The firm’s comparable-store sales rose 2 percent for the combined November and December period.

For the quarter ending Jan. 31, Zale is looking for gross margins to weigh in at 52.6 percent of sales, 200 basis points higher than a year earlier.

“During the holiday period, we maintained our focus on increasing exclusive product penetration, driving gross margin improvement and building our core national brands,” Killion said.

Tiffany & Co. also reported stronger comps and stood by its financial projections for fiscal year, but saw its stock slip 1.8 percent to $90.36.

Tiffany said worldwide net sales for the two-month period rose 4 percent to $1.03 billion, while comparable-store sales increased 6 percent.

Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and ceo said the company had a “good holiday season” with growth across the brand’s range of categories, including fine and statement, engagement and fashion jewelry.

Looking at the regional breakdown, Tiffany’s total sales rose 6 percent to $550 million in the Americas region, 5 percent to $196 million in the Asia-Pacific region and 11 percent to $131 million in Europe. Total sales in Japan declined by 12 percent to $135 million, a reflection of the weak yen to U.S. dollar translation.

Tiffany continues to project adjusted earnings of $3.65 to $3.75 a share for the year.