Tiffany: Sales up, profit down

Tiffany & Co. reported Tuesday that net sales rose 6 percent for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 and 9 percent for the fiscal year, ended Jan. 31. However, net earnings declined in both periods due to a one-time gain in December 2004, the luxury retailer said.

Net sales totaled $858.4 million for the quarter. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, which excludes currency effects from translating foreign-denominated sales into U.S. dollars, net sales increased 9 percent and worldwide comparable-store sales rose 6 percent. For the year, net sales totaled $2.4 billion. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, net sales increased 9 percent and worldwide comparable store sales rose 5 percent.

Net earnings for the quarter fell to $140.2 million, compared with $217 million in the prior fourth quarter. Net earnings for the year fell to $254.6 million, compared with $304.3 million in the prior year.

Earnings in the fourth quarter and year in fiscal 2004 benefited from a pre-tax gain of $194 million from the sale of mining company Aber Diamond Corp. shares.

U.S. Retail sales in the fourth quarter increased 8 percent to $450 million, largely due to a 5 percent comparable store sales growth. For the year, U.S. retail sales rose 9 percent to $1.2 billion, with comparable store sales increasing 7 percent. Comparable store sales growth in both periods was generated by higher spending per transaction, the company said.

International retail sales rose 1 percent to $304 million in the fourth quarter and 5 percent to $900 million for the year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales rose 10 percent in the fourth quarter and 7 percent for the year. International comparable store sales rose 7 percent in the quarter and 2 percent in the year.

Sales in Japan rose 7 percent for the quarter and were unchanged in the year. The Asia-Pacific region outside Japan rose 13 percent and 8 percent. Sales in Europe increased 1 percent for the quarter and year.

Direct Marketing sales increased 15 percent to $70 million in the fourth quarter and rose 11 percent to $157 million for the year. The growth in both periods was due to increased orders and in the average amount spent per order.

Other sales increased 11 percent to $34.2 in the fourth quarter and rose 32 percent to $116.2 million for the year, primarily due to increased wholesale sales of diamonds.