Tiffany Fourth-Quarter Net Income Flat

Upscale jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. on Monday said fourth-quarter net income was nearly flat, weighed by an impairment charge. The company also offered a bullish first-quarter outlook.

Earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 31 were nearly unchanged at $140.5 million, or $1.02 a share, from $140.3 million, or 97 cents a share, during the same period last year. Results include a 5-cent a share impairment charge related to its Little Switzerland subsidiary.

There were 138.3 million diluted weighted-average shares outstanding in the quarter, compared with 145.3 million a year ago.

Revenue grew 15% to $986.4 million from $858.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected net income of $1.05 per share on revenue of $979.1 million.

Same-store sales, or sales in stores open at least one year, grew 8% worldwide, excluding the effect of foreign currency translation. Same-store sales are considered the industry standard for measuring a retailer's health.

For the year, net income was nearly flat at $253.9 million, or $1.80 a share, compared with $254.7 million , or $1.75 a share, in 2005.

Revenue grew 11% to $2.65 billion from $2.4 billion in 2005.

Tiffany said that worldwide total net sales are slightly above expectations thus far in the fiscal first quarter. The New York-based company added, however, that it was seeing a greater than expected shift in sales mix toward higher-end, lower-margin diamond jewelry. Overall, earnings are "on track" to meet its expectations for the quarter.

For the year, the company said it expects earnings per share growth of 15%, implying net income of $2.07, while analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect net income of $2.10 per share.

Tiffany also sees sales growth between 11% and 12%, implying sales between $2.94 billion and $2.97 billion. Analysts are looking for revenue of $2.9 billion.

Tiffany also said it expects a high-single-digit percentage increase in U.S. and international same-store sales.