By  on December 9, 2011

Harry Winston Diamond Corp. said late Thursday that it swung to a third-quarter net loss, due partially to hefty charges. However, strength in the jeweler’s retail segment, as well as signs of resurgent consumer demand, propped up the company’s stock 3.9 percent in post-market trading.

“Challenging trading conditions returned to the diamond business internationally in the third quarter,” said chairman and chief executive officer Robert Gannicott, who explained that in order to cope, the company elected to selectively sell to markets that “remained resilient.”

“We have now resumed a wider range of rough-diamond sales as the market has recovered some poise in the light of continuing good consumer demand,” he said. “Our luxury brand segment has seen increased unit sales as we continue to broaden the focus of our jewelry and timepieces.”

For the quarter ended Oct. 31, Harry Winston posted a net loss attributable to shareholders of $4.7 million, or 6 cents a diluted share, compared with a year-ago profit of $12.7 million, or 15 cents a share. Excluding charges, the company said it would have posted a profit of $3.7 million, or 4 cents share, which was still less than the 6-cent profit expected by Wall Street.

The Toronto-based jeweler said sales fell 15 percent to $119.7 million, from $140.9 million a year earlier.

At the firm’s retail division, which accounts for the bulk of the firm’s revenue, sales expanded 4.1 percent to $83.5 million, from year-ago sales of $80.2 million.

The company said it would continue to focus on growing its core bridal and watch businesses, as well as its new jewelry collections.

Shares of Harry Winston fell 7.3 percent to $10.49 at the end of trading Thursday.

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