Tiffany & Co. reported a 35.3 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings early Tuesday, but the results easily beat Wall Street's projections.
The luxury jewelry retailer, which in January stirred speculation that it might be for sale by ending its stockholder rights plan, or poison pill, said earnings in the three months ended Jan. 31 were $140.3 million, or 97 cents a diluted share, significantly higher than analysts' estimates for 84 cents. Comparatively, the company earned $217 million, or $1.48, in last year's fourth quarter, which benefited from a $194 million one-time gain from the sale of the company's stake in Aber Diamond Corp.
Net revenues in the quarter rose 6 percent to $858.5 million. By division, U.S. retail sales rose 8 percent to $449.3 million, helped by a 5 percent gain in same-store sales; international retail sales rose 1 percent to $304 million.
Regarding the poison pill -- which is typically used to prevent an unwanted takeover -- Tiffany had said in January that the decision to end the poison pill "was not taken with reference to any proposed or expected acquisition transaction." Talk has since died down on a prospective sale.
Shares of Tiffany are roughly flat since the start of calendar year 2006. The stock was recently trading down 0.8 percent at $38.22 on the New York Stock Exchange.
In the full year, Tiffany earned $254.7 million, or $1.75, down 16.3 percent from $304.3 million, or $2.05, a year ago. Analysts had been expecting a profit of $1.62.
Annual revenues were up 8.6 percent at $2.4 billion.
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