(Adds analysts' comments, background; updates share movement)
By Devika Krishna Kumar
Jan 10 U.S. jeweler Tiffany & Co kept
its full-year earnings forecast unchanged, disappointing
investors after reporting a strong jump in U.S. holiday season
The company's shares fell as much as 2.5 percent after it
maintained its adjusted profit forecast of $3.65-$3.75 per share
for the year ending Jan. 31.
"We believe the market was probably looking for a stronger
earnings guide based on recent fundamental momentum," Jefferies
& Co analysts wrote in a note.
Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough said investors were
also disappointed with flat growth in same-store sales in the
Asia-Pacific region. Growth in the region had driven the
company's sales growth in the past year amid sluggish sales in
Tiffany's recovery in the United States, its biggest market,
came after two years of struggle to find the right mix of the
expensive jewelry for which it is known and cheaper silver items
that generate a quarter of sales.
The company, known for its blue boxes and its Fifth Avenue
flagship store in Manhattan, reported a 7 percent rise in
same-store sales in the Americas for the holiday shopping season
ended Dec. 31.
Overall net worldwide sales rose 8 percent during November
and December, excluding currency fluctuations. Including foreign
exchange fluctuations, sales rose 4 percent.
Lower-end peer Zale Corp reported a 2 percent rise
in comparable-store sales for the same period, driven by higher
sales at its Zales Jewelers and Zales Outlet stores.
Zale shares rose as much as 19.5 percent on the New York
Stock Exchange on Friday.
While Tiffany has maintained its forecast, other large
retailers have slashed theirs due to steep discounts.
Signet Jewelers Ltd , the largest U.S.
jeweler, estimated its fourth-quarter profit below analysts'
expectations on Thursday as increased promotions hurt margins.
"Tiffany was able to overcome the traffic challenges of
other mall retailers based on the strength of its assortments
-and despite its lack of discounting," Dorothy Lakner of Topeka
Capital Markets wrote in a note.
Yarbrough said the company's launch of cheaper silver
jewelry and increased marketing and advertising efforts boosted
sales in the Americas.
"We'll have to wait and see if this translates into 2014 or
if this is just a holiday period revival," Yarbrough said.
Tiffany shares were down 2 percent at $90.30 on Friday
afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
Zale shares were up 13 percent at $16.06, while Signet
shares were down 2 percent at $71.93.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Phil Wahba in New York;
Editing by Savio D'Souza and Kirti Pandey)