LONDON  De Beers Societe Anonyme doesn’t see a sparkling 2008.

The diamond firm said Friday there is a high level of uncertainty over world market conditions, and “the economic conditions in the U.S. could continue to impact consumer diamond jewelry sales through the first half, particularly at the lower end.”
However, the company said it expected emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle East to sustain pricing for larger and better quality diamonds.

Adding to the uncertain outlook for this year, De Beers said it planned to produce diamonds at similar levels to 2007 and 2006, but energy issues in southern Africa could present “operational challenges.”

De Beers discussed the outlook for the year in reporting a fall in profits and sales in the year ending Dec. 31 due to a drop in the sales of natural rough diamonds, increased overhead and one-off finance charges.

After-tax profits slipped 7.1 percent to $486 million from $523 million.

Total sales in the 2007 fiscal year dropped 2.8 percent to $6.84 billion from $7.03 billion. Production levels were flat at 51.1 million carats, compared with 2006, which had been a record year. All figures were reported by De Beers in dollars.

For complete coverage, see Monday’s WWD.


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