June 18, 2008 / 7:25 PM / 11 years ago

Blue Nile sees triple-digit int'l growth this year

CHICAGO, June 18 (Reuters) - Online diamond retailer Blue Nile Inc NILE.O on Wednesday said it expects international sales to continue posting triple-digit percentage gains this year and overseas business could one day account for half of all revenue.

“We think this is only the beginning with a lot more to come,” Chief Executive Diane Irvine said at William Blair & Co’s annual Growth Stock Conference.

Blue Nile in February said it would begin shipping jewelry to 12 new countries in Europe and Asia, such as Spain, France, Singapore and Taiwan.

Previously, it had only shipped to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Jewelers, including Tiffany & Co (TIF.N), have looked to international markets for growth as an economic slowdown in the U.S. dampens domestic business.

In 2007, Blue Nile’s international sales rose to $17.2 million, a 108.1 percent increase from $8.3 million in 2006. Net sales for 2007 were about $319.3 million.

The company previously forecast second-quarter earnings between 15 and 18 cents per share, while analysts had expected an average of 22 cents.

For the full year, Blue Nile had forecast earnings per share to be about the same as in 2007, when it posted full-year profit of $1.04 a share. That forecast compared with analysts’ expectations for $1.05 a share.

Irvine did not comment on the company’s outlook during the presentation. (Reporting by Erin Zureick, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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