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Tiffany says sales to Chinese tourists are plummeting because of the trade war

Key Points
  • After slashing the company's full-year profit outlook to low-to-mid-single-digit growth from mid-single-digit growth, Tiffany cited "dramatically" lower foreign tourist spending.
  • "We have seen a sharp decrease to sales to tourists in the U.S. in the range of 25%. Even sharper for Chinese tourists," Tiffany's chief executive officer, Alessandro Bogliolo, said on the company's conference call.
  • China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Chinese citizens Tuesday against traveling to the United States, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
A shopper carries a Tiffany & Co. retail bag on Fifth Avenue in New York, May 30, 2019.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. blamed disappointing quarterly results on a steep decline in Chinese tourism, the company said Tuesday.

After slashing its full-year profit outlook to low-to-mid-single-digit growth from mid-single-digit growth, Tiffany cited "dramatically" lower tourist spending.

"The tourists in the U.S. represent a low double-digit percentage of our total sales in the U.S. and we have seen a sharp decrease to sales to tourists in the U.S. in the range of 25%. Even sharper for Chinese tourists," Tiffany's chief executive officer, Alessandro Bogliolo, said on the company's conference call.

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Since the start of May, tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated while the world's two largest economies struggle to pass a trade agreement. A broken trade deal with China caused President Donald Trump to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and in retaliation, Beijing put tariffs on $60 billion worth of imports.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Chinese citizens Tuesday against traveling to the United States, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Beijing cautioned those working, studying and traveling in America.

Mark Erceg, Tiffany's chief financial officer and executive vice president, said the company is "being affected by the softness in foreign tourist spending." However, Tiffany is also affected by "the recent imposition of higher tariff rates on jewelry products that we export from the U.S. into China and our decision to not meaningfully increase our retail prices in China at the present time," Erceg added.

For the first quarter the jewelry maker's net income fell 12% to $125.2 million, or $1.03 per share. This beat analysts expectations of $1.02 earnings per share, according to Refinitiv.

Tiffany had $1.003 billion in revenue, falling 3% and missing the $1.015 billion forecast by analysts. The company's same-store sales missed estimates in every region. In the U.S., same-store sales dropped 5%, compared with the 1.2% estimated.

The largest comparable sales decline was in Europe, which fell 7%, compared with the expected increase of 1.8%.

After dropping in premarket trading, Tiffany's stock closed up 2.6% on Tuesday. The shares have risen nearly 15% so far this year.

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