Tiffany's holiday sales may be an anomaly in retail

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Tiffany reported flat global holiday sales, well below expectations for a gain of around 4 percent. The Americas segment—which accounts for about half of sales—was down 1 percent.

Of greater concern, the company is lowering the fourth-quarter outlook to between $4.15 and $4.20 a share, versus prior of between $4.20 and $4.30 a share, which is well below FactSet's $4.82 a share consensus. The initial outlook for 2015 sales is again low- to mid-single-digits. Is the strong dollar hurting tourism? Maybe. That seems to be the explanation.

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Tiffany Holiday Sales:

  • Americas: down 1%
  • Asia-Pacific: up 6% (a little better than expected)
  • Japan: down 8% (weak)
  • Europe: up 4% (a little better than expected)

Here's the problem: Tiffany is fairly expensive, at nearly 21 times forward earnings. If that drops to, say, 18 times forward earnings (now $4.86 for 2016), we are talking about roughly $87. But that is also assuming a roughly 6-percent gain in revenues; now that Tiffany is talking about low- to mid-single-digit gains, those numbers will be coming down as well.

My guess is that given the decent numbers from other retailers, this may be an anomaly.