Trump security along Fifth Avenue takes a bite out of Tiffany's flagship traffic

Pedestrians pass in front of the Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.
Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of the Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.

Tiffany's troubles on a prime New York City street have taken a bite out of the luxury brand's traffic, but the disruption hasn't been significant enough for management to lower its full-year outlook.

Since the election, when security was heightened in front of Trump Tower, the high-end jeweler has seen an "adverse effect" on traffic at its neighboring Fifth Avenue flagship, management said Tuesday. It's also seen a "continuation of sales softness" relative to last year, and to its other U.S. stores.

Analysts had cautioned earlier this month that the shop, which they estimated accounts for some 10 percent of Tiffany's total revenue, could take a substantial bite out of its fourth-quarter sales and profit. At that time, Cowen and Company analyst Oliver Chen said police activity along Fifth Avenue could pressure Tiffany's earnings by 3 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Tiffany on Tuesday maintained its full-year sales and earnings forecasts, noting that the flagship store accounts for less than 10 percent of its total sales. Still, management cautioned that it "cannot provide any assurance that sales in that store will not be negatively affected by this activity in the fourth quarter or in any future period."

Tiffany is calling for revenue to slip by a low-single-digit percentage for fiscal 2016, and for earnings per share to fall in a mid-single-digit percentage range.

The jeweler on Tuesday topped analysts' third-quarter sales and earnings forecasts, reporting a 1 percent increase in sales, to $949 million, and earnings of 76 cents a share, up from 70 cents a year ago.


The company's shares rose more than 4 percent Tuesday. At one point, it hit a 52-week high of $84.40.

"The 1 percent uplift is modest, but it is far better than the string of poor numbers the company has been posting for well over a year," Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders said. "That said, the figures do not show that all the problems at Tiffany have been resolved."

Indeed, Tiffany's business has been in slump for the past two years, as sluggish tourism trends, currency fluctuations and a slowdown in jewelry spending have sent its topline lower. That includes a sales decline of 6 percent for the first nine months of the year. But the fourth quarter is especially critical for Tiffany, as it accounts for nearly 30 percent of its annual sales.

Tiffany's third quarter ended on Oct. 31, before Donald Trump was elected to the presidency. As a result, any impact from the protests and security protection in front of neighboring Trump Tower would not be reflected until the fourth quarter.

Still, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik reiterated his buy rating on the jeweler Tuesday morning, saying he expects comparable-store sales trends to flip positive during that period.

"While Tiffany's recovery has been hindered by external top-line headwinds, these now appear to be abating," he said.