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Rising Sales Lift Tiffany

Jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co.'s earnings more than tripled in the third quarter, buoyed by the sale of its Tokyo flagship. The company also raised...

Jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co.’s earnings more than tripled in the third quarter, buoyed by the sale of its Tokyo flagship. The company also raised full-year-guidance.

This story first appeared in the December 3, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended Oct. 31, earnings climbed to $98.9 million, or 72 cents a diluted share, from $29.1 million, or 23 cents, in the year-ago period. During the quarter the company completed the sale-leaseback of the building that houses its Tokyo flagship for $328 million, which resulted in a gain of 48 cents a diluted share after tax.

Sales for the quarter soared 18 percent to $627.3 million from $531.8 million, while total same-store sales jumped 8 percent domestically and 10 percent internationally.

For the nine-month period earnings leapt 64 percent to $185.5 million, or $1.52 a diluted share, from $113.4 million, or 85 cents, last year. Sales climbed 18 percent to $1.89 billion from $1.60 billion.

“We are pleased with our overall businesses in the U.S. and internationally, as well as with product performance ranging from robust diamond jewelry sales to a healthy increase in silver jewelry sales,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are now one month into the all-important November-December holiday season and are pleased with overall sales growth that is meeting our expectations. The vast majority of holiday season business is still ahead of us, so it is premature to extrapolate recent results or draw any conclusions about consumer spending.”

The company raised full-year guidance to a range of $2.25 to $2.30 a diluted share, from a prior outlook of $2.22 to $2.27 a diluted share.

On a conference call with analysts, Mark L. Aaron, vice president of investor relations, said U.S. retail sales increased 12 percent in the third quarter “largely driven by increased spending per transaction, as well as an increase in the number of transactions. An 8 percent increase in comp-store sales was in line with our high-single-digit expectation.”

Aaron went on to say that from a “price stratification viewpoint, there was price strata growth in a wide range, from under $500 to over $50,000, but the greatest percentage growth in sales and transactions was in the $4,000 to $50,000 range.”

Aaron said geographically, the U.S. was strong, with sales in the New York flagship rising “25 percent in the quarter on top of a 13 percent increase last year, and were up 28 percent year to date with the increases coming from increased transactions and higher spending per transaction.”