(By Balachander) Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) reduced its 2012 forecast yet again after the jeweler's third-quarter earnings trailed market expectations amid sharp contraction of margins.
The company said it continues to maintain a "cautious" near-term outlook about global economic conditions.
"However, we expect to see improving results in this holiday season, partly benefiting from easing year-over-year sales comparisons, but also tied to the success of new TIFFANY & CO. stores we've added this year, new product introductions and more product-focused marketing communications," Tiffany said.
Earnings per share (EPS) fell to 49 cents from 70 cents, and also trailed Wall Street projections of 63 cents for the third quarter. Net earnings dropped 30 percent to $63 million.
Net sales rose 4 percent to $853 million. On a non-GAAP basis, sales gained 5 percent versus consensus estimate of a 4.6 percent increase. Comparable store sales grew 1 percent.
Gross margin shrank to 54.4 percent from 57.9 percent partly due to a continued increase in precious metal and diamond costs.
Comparable store sales were 1 percent higher in the Americas, while Asia-Pacific comps fell 4 percent. In Japan and Europe comps gained 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
Looking ahead for the full year, the company now expects EPS in the range of $3.20 to $3.40 from prior expectations of $3.55 to $3.70. Net sales growth is currently forecast at 5 percent to 6 percent, down from 6 percent to 7 percent growth expected earlier. Analysts expect EPS of $3.60 on sales rise of 6.00 percent.
TIF shares closed Wednesday's regular trading at $63.73. The stock has been trading between $49.72 and $74.20 over the past year.