De Beers set a sales record in 2000, although receipts failed to break the expected $6 billion mark. The company did fulfill its goal for the year by matching its 1999 total of $5.24 billion. Overall, sales rose 8%, to $5.67 billion. However, De Beers managing director Gary Ralfe declined to state a goal for this year, saying he wanted to wait until Christmas results from 2000 were fully tabulated. Most analysts are expecting sales to slow, especially in light of the anticipated cooling in the U.S. economy and the disappointing Christmas selling season.
De Beers credited most of the good news to the U.S. economy, which accounted for half of world retail sales in 2000. The company noted that sales were positive everywhere except Japan.
Analyst Hilton Ashton of BOE Securities says he thinks the supply of diamonds will be scarce in the next year, which could lead De Beers to increase prices.