De Beers' diamond sales may fall as much as 15% this year, executives said recently. If the prediction is true, this would be the company's worst year since 1997. Both 1999 and 2000 set annual sales records. The potential drop was pegged to high inventories accumulated before the Christmas 2000 season. Some analysts, however, said 15% was a low-ball number and felt that De Beers was "talking the market down" to convince investors to back its plan to "go private." Some analysts oppose the plan, claiming it undervalues the company. Even so, no one doubts De Beers' sales will drop, but analysts peg the number closer to 10%.