Strong sales in the U.S. offset weakness in Asia. That puts Tiffany in a good position going into the holiday shopping season, says an analyst. Fred Katayama reports.
Tiffany's earnings still sparkled in the latest quarter despite the slowdown in Asia. Sales rose 10 percent in the luxury retailer's largest market, the U.S. Tiffany said it was encouraged by the initial results from its new T jewelry collection, which sports higher price tags on average than past product launches. Analysts were impressed by its ability to fatten its profit margins. Overall profit fell 60 percent, missing estimates, because the company paid off its debt early. Strength in its home market offset weakness in Asia. Sales tumbled in one of its largest markets, Japan, where consumers were still smarting from a sales tax increase and another slip into recession. And comparable store sales fell in the rest of Asia, where pro-democracy protests slammed tourism in Hong Kong. Sales recovered in Europe. In a mixed retail environment, the company stuck to its earnings forecast for the fiscal year. Investors have been bullish over its prospects. The stock had run up 11 percent over the past month, and it added to those gains in early trading. Analysts were mostly upbeat about Tiffany's position going into the holiday season. Deutsche Bank analyst Francesca Di Pasquantonio said, "The strength in North America, the success of fashion jewelry and in particular of the new Tiffany T line, and the tailwind on the gross margin bode well for the fourth quarter ..."