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Tiffany 1st-quarter net income jumps 50 per cent on strong global sales and plush margins

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Tiffany & Co.'s net income spiked 50 per cent in the first quarter as worldwide sales jumped by double digits and the company boosted prices.

Results beat expectations and the jeweler raised its earnings guidance for the year, sending shares up nearly 9 per cent in early trading Wednesday.

"This is an excellent and encouraging start to the year," said CEO Michael Kowalski.

Tiffany, known for its iconic turquoise gift boxes, reported that net income rose to $125.6 million, or 97 cents per share during the three months ended April 30. That handily beat the 78 cents per share Wall Street was looking for and is up from $83.6 million, or 65 cents per share, last year.

Valentine's Day was a boost during the month, Mark Aaron, Tiffany vice-president of investor relations, said in a call with analysts.

"Despite snowstorms that affected a number of our stores in the eastern U.S., we enjoyed very good Valentine's Day results," Aaron said.

Revenue climbed 13 per cent to $1.01 billion from $885.5 million. Analysts expected $953.7 million. Revenue rose 8 per cent to $439 million in the Americas, Tiffany's largest market. Revenue rose 17 per cent in the Asia Pacific region, 20 per cent in Japan and 9 per cent in Europe.

Revenue in stores open at least a year, a key retail metric, rose 11 per cent globally and 8 per cent in the U.S.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst David Schick said results were "impressive," especially considering that more new jewelry designs are due in the second half of the year. He added that the results seem to show that President Frederic Cumenal, who joined the company last fall, is helping business with "new energy and ideas for the business."

Tiffany now expects full-year net income of $4.15 to $4.25 per share, up from $4.05 to $4.15 per share previously. Analysts had been projecting $4.19 per share. The company expects revenue to rise in the high single digit percentage range.

In a call with analysts, new CFO Ralph Nicoletti said the company expects net income in the second quarter to be even with last year, due to uncertainty about when sales growth will resume in Japan and economic uncertainty in Europe. That implies net income of about 83 cents per share. Analysts expect 92 cents per share.

Shares of Tiffany rose $$7.53, or 8.5 per cent, to $95.76 in early trading. While the stock is down about 5 per cent since the beginning of the year, it's within striking distance of an all-time high and is up more than 12 per cent over the past 52 weeks.

The Canadian Press


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