Tiffany's Holiday Sales Jump

Tiffany & Co. Inc. (TIF) on Friday said its holiday sales jumped 12 percent from the prior year, putting the luxury jeweler on course to meet its near-term profit targets even after posting a lackluster performance in Japan.

Holiday sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose 6 percent worldwide. Net sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 reached $673.8 million.

The New York-based company said holiday demand had been boosted by interest in diamond jewelry and new product introductions including its ATLAS jewelry collection (search).

In the United States, sales rose 11 percent to $340.8 million, benefiting from a 7 percent jump in same-store sales at the company's New York flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

Overall, U.S. same-store sales were up 8 percent, Tiffany said in a statement. Internationally, its same-store sales dipped 2 percent, weighed down by a 7 percent decline in Japan, Tiffany's key market beyond the United States.

Even so, Michael Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and chief executive officer, said the latest sales results positioned the company to end the year on a positive note.

"These results keep us on track to achieve the earnings expectation that we announced in November," he said.

"Overall our preliminary expectations for 2005 call for growth of 8 percent to 10 percent in net sales and 10 percent to 12 percent in net earnings," he added.

Commenting on Japan, he said despite challenging market conditions "we believe our initiatives with new stores and products will ultimately lead to improved performance."

The company's 10 to 12 percent earnings growth target excludes a 2004 gain from the sale of Tiffany's equity interest in Aber Diamond Corp (search).