Two years after its acquisition of Zale, Signet Jewelers plans to continue scooping up market share in a consolidating jewelry market — but investors in the here and now appear to be worried over slightly weaker than expected first-quarter sales.
Chief executive officer Mark Light told analysts on a conference call that the company posted rising first-quarter profits despite the “choppy retail environment,” logged “solid sales” and was still “a growth story.”
He also said the company hired Goldman Sachs to evaluate strategic options for its credit portfolio, looking for ways to optimize the business model.
Signet’s first-quarter net profits rose 23.6 percent to $146.8 million, or $1.87 a diluted share, from $118.8 million, or $1.48, a year earlier. Sales for the three months ended April 30 increased 3.2 percent to $1.58 billion from $1.53 billion. Same-store sales rose 2.4 percent.
Adjusted earning of $1.95 a share came in 1 cent ahead of the $1.94 analysts projected but sales came in shy of the $1.61 billion analysts anticipated. Investors were unforgiving and pushed the stock down 8.7 percent to $98.96 in midday trading, leaving the company with a market capitalization of $7.7 billion.
Light sees Signet, which counts itself as the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry, as the best positioned player to gain in a still-dispersed market.
“Given the fragmented jewelry industry, we believe we have many years of profitable market share gains ahead of us,” he said. “Our brands, our scale and our people give us a sustained competitive advantage. Signet is relatively Amazon-proof as consumers have consistently shown a desire to touch jewelry and get educated by trusted and trained professional before making a highly emotional purchase.”
He also noted: “We are in a consolidating industry. Jewelry in the U.S. is growing in dollars and declining in the number of doors. And we have three of the most preeminent brands in the space. We know that there are growth opportunities and we also know how and where to get them, which makes us even more attractive for investment.”