By Cotten Timberlake
NEW YORK - Tiffany & Co., the world’s second-largest luxury jewelry retailer, reported fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates amid demand in Asia.
Net income in the quarter ended Jan. 31 rose 0.7 percent to $179.6 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, from $178.4 million, or $1.39, a year earlier, the New York-based company with a major production facility in Cumberland, said Friday in a statement. Analysts projected $1.36, the average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Tiffany said sales increased 4.1 percent to $1.2 billion in the period, meeting analysts’ estimates, driven by a 13 percent increase in the company’s Asia-Pacific region to $254 million. The region’s sales were also helped by store openings in Singapore, China and Australia last year. Improved political stability and a desire to hedge against possible future inflation drove Chinese consumers to buy jewelry, said Liz Dunn, an analyst at Macquarie Group in New York.
Sales in the Americas rose 2 percent to $620 million, while Europe posted sales of $146 million, a 3 percent increase.
“Asia-Pacific was strong because store openings helped and there has been an improving trend broadly in the jewelry business,” Dunn said. “You can see that in the China and Hong Kong retail reports.”
Dunn rates the shares neutral, the equivalent of a hold.
Tiffany rose 4.3 percent to $70.85 at 8:09 a.m. in New York. The shares had gained 18 percent this year through Thursday compared with an 8.4 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Net income for the fiscal year fell 5.2 percent to $416.2 million on revenue of $3.8 billion, which represented an increase of 4.2 percent on fiscal 2012 sales. Earnings per diluted share totaled $3.25, compared with $3.40 in the previous year.
Tiffany said in January that it signed a 20-year agreement to keep selling jewelry by Elsa Peretti, which accounts for about 10 percent of its sales. The accord lets Tiffany retain exclusive rights to the designs, which include “Diamonds by the Yard” and iconic heart- and bean-shaped pendants.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA is the world’s largest luxury jewelry maker.