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Tiffany 4Q profit falls, but forecast shines
Tiffany posts slight drop in 4th-qtr earnings, but issues strong 2012 guidance
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' Tiffany & Co. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit slipped, breaking a five-quarter-long streak of better-than-expected results for the upscale jeweler.

But the company was optimistic about its prospects for 2012, predicting both higher profits and revenue.

Shares of the company known for its iconic turquoise box rose $3.02, or 4.4 percent, to $71.70 in premarket trading.

The quarterly results didn't come as a complete surprise. After posting solid results for the first three quarters of the year, Tiffany cut its 2011 profit prediction in January, saying that its U.S. and European sales weakened significantly during the holiday season as customers pulled back on high-end jewelry spending.

For the quarter ended Jan. 31, Tiffany reported net income of $178.4 million, or $1.39 per share, down from $181.2 million, or $1.41 per share, in the same quarter of 2010.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.42 per share.

Revenue rose 7.8 percent to $1.19 billion from $1.1 billion, matching analysts' predictions.

The company said its revenue at stores open at least a year rose 5 percent. The metric is a key gauge of a retailer's performance because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Sales in the company's Americas region rose 5 percent to $605 million, while European sales increased just 3 percent to $142 million. Sales at the company's flagship New York store, known as a magnet for foreign tourists, rose just 2 percent.

Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific sales jumped 19 percent to $225 million and Japan sales rose 12 percent to $204 million.

For the full year 2011, Tiffany reported net income of $439.2 million, or $3.40 per share, up from $368.4 million, or $2.87 per share, in 2010. Revenue rose to $3.64 billion from $3.09 billion.

Tiffany projected a 2012 profit of $3.95 to $4.05 per share, ahead of average Wall Street predictions of $3.93 per share. Revenue is expected to rise about 10 percent, largely as a result of higher Asia-Pacific and Americas spending, the company said.

Based on Tiffany's 2011 results, the guidance suggests $4.01 billion in sales, well ahead of average analysts' predictions of $3.91 billion.

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