NEW YORK — Michael Kors Holdings Inc. is worth almost 25 percent less.

The fashion firm saw its shares plummet 24.2 percent Wednesday to $45.93 on the Big Board, wiping more than $3 billion off its market capitalization in a single day. Kors’ market cap is now $9.22 billion, compared with $12.37 billion two days ago. The firm’s shares hit a 52-week low of $45.88 in intra-day trading, with nearly 67.3 million shares changing hands versus an average three-month volume of 2.9 million shares.

The slashing in the value of Kors stemmed from investors’ concerns over a decline in North American comparable-store sales in the fourth quarter and lackluster projections for comp-store sales in the first quarter and full year of the current fiscal year.

Nor was it just Kors shares that took the hit. Its handbag competitors Coach Inc. and Kate Spade Co. also saw their shares fall. Coach shares slipped 3.3 percent to $35.36 following a downgrade by BB&T Capital Markets analyst Corinna L. Freedman, while Kate Spade shares were down 4.7 percent to $25.39, even though Freedman was bullish about the firm. Those declines suggest that investors weren’t happy about the handbag category for aspirational consumers, the mass affluence sector where price points are skewed more toward mass than luxury.

Not all fashion shares were impacted. Shares of Tiffany & Co. rose 11 percent Wednesday even though the firm reported a 16.5 percent drop in profits for the first quarter.

Clearly the market was more bullish on the pure luxury sector than the aspirational one on Wednesday. The latter category does appear to be suffering, as Coach and Kate Spade  stumbled in the most recent quarter, with Coach profits falling almost 54 percent in the third quarter and Spade reporting higher losses for its first quarter. Kors on Wednesday projected on a low double-digit comp-sales gain for the first quarter and flat comps for the full year.

At Kors, fourth-quarter net income for the period ended March 28 was up 13.4 percent to $182.6 million, or 90 cents a diluted share, from $161 million, or 78 cents, a year ago. Net revenues rose 17.8 percent to $1.08 billion from $917.5 million. But North American comp-store sales fell 6.7 percent for the quarter, and were down 5.8 percent on a constant-currency basis. For the quarter, earnings per share fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts were expecting 91 cents on revenues of $1.08 billion. Growth in revenues was the slowest since the company completed its initial public offering in December 2011.

Although John Idol, Kors’ chairman and chief executive officer, told analysts in a conference call the company was “pleased with the continued momentum in our overall business,” the comps decline was attributed to weak traffic trends in North America, a decline in its North American watch business, reduction in tourist traffic and negative impact from shipping delays in footwear, women’s wear and small leather goods in connection with the West Coast port issues.

Idol said foreign currency rates would continue to be a headwind this year. But he also told analysts that the company anticipates “continued deceleration in watch sales due to what we believe is a cycle shift to our jewelry category.” With 121 stores opened in the rolling 12 months, and more stores planned worldwide, Kors runs the risk of being over exposed, if it isn’t already.

Joseph B. Parsons, the chief financial officer, told analysts that gross margin slipped to 58.4 percent from 59.9 percent due to additional markdowns and allowances. The company was also exposed to transaction risk as its international businesses purchased goods and services in U.S. dollars. Parsons said many of the “favorable contracts will be expiring in the early part of the fiscal year, resolving in higher costs of goods.”

In contrast was Tiffany, which saw net income for the first quarter ended April 30 down to $104.9 million, or 81 cents a diluted share, from $125.6 million, or 97 cents, a year ago. Net sales were down 4.9 percent to $962.4 million from $1.01 billion. Comps were up 1 percent in North America on a constant-exchange rate basis. Analysts were expecting EPS of 70 cents on revenues of $918.7 million.

Shares of Tiffany rose to $94.54 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. More than 6.7 million Tiffany shares changed hands, compared with a three-month average trading volume of 1.6 million.

Fred Cumenal, ceo, noted economic headwinds such as the strong dollar and global economic uncertainties and said first-quarter results “were somewhat better than we anticipated.”

The company said comps in Japan were down 24 percent, reflecting the surge in spending a year ago prior to the increase in the country’s consumption tax on April 1, 2014, although it is seeing more spending by foreign tourists, particularly from China. The company benefited from sales overseas at its international business due to tourists shopping overseas in Europe, as the U.S. dollar grew stronger here. Sales in the quarter benefited from Tiffany T, a collection launched in the fall. Sales of fashion jewelry were strong in the quarter, led by gold jewelry design, which helped to offset weakness in silver jewelry at the below $500 price point.

In a conference call to Wall Street analysts, Ralph J. Nicoletti, cfo, said gross margin was 59.1 percent, or nine-tenths of a point higher than last year. The company more or less held steady to its forecasts of March 20 when the company posted fourth-quarter results, noting that in “light of the continuing macro challenges, and our assumptions about the direction of currency movements, we think it is prudent to maintain and not increase our earnings outlook for the year,” the cfo said. At the time, the company forecasted minimal growth in net earnings from the $4.20 earned in fiscal 2014.

 

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