Tiffany reports a 2% drop in earnings

Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. on Thursday reported a 2% drop in fourth-quarter earnings as sluggish economic conditions continued to dent sales growth, and said it expects minimal growth in worldwide sales in the first half of 2002, Reuters reported.

The New York-based retailer said net income in the quarter ended Jan. 31 was $82.7 million, or 55 cents per diluted share, vs. $84.7 million, or 56 cents per diluted share in the prior year, Reuters reported. Excluding an impairment charge earnings would have been $87.2 million, or 58 cents.

The company’s own forecast was for profits at the upper end of its forecast of 49 cents to 56 cents, down from 60 cents to 65 cents Tiffany had estimated before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Tiffany said net sales in the quarter fell 2% o $565.8 million from $576.4 million a year before, while sales at U.S. stores open at least a year fell 3%. In January, Tiffany had forecast an overall fourth-quarter sales drop of 3%.