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'We will generate substantial cash from operations' - Tiffany Chairman
30
May '09
Tiffany & Co. reported lower sales, operating margin and net earnings for its first quarter ended April 30, 2009. These financial results were consistent with management's expectations for the quarter and the Company reaffirmed its outlook for the full year.

Net sales in the first quarter declined 22% to $523.1 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, which excludes the effect of translating foreign-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars (see attached "Non-GAAP Measures" schedule), worldwide net sales declined 18%, with a 21% decline in comparable store sales.

Net earnings in the first quarter were $24.3 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, compared with $64.4 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, in the prior year.

Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Despite reduced consumer demand in the luxury sector, Tiffany is, and is projected to remain, solidly profitable and will generate substantial cash from operations. We remain confident about the continued effectiveness of our fundamental growth strategies, and in their ability to generate superior financial returns when economic conditions improve."

Net sales by segment were as follows:
• In the Americas, first quarter sales declined 31% to $259.0 million. Comparable U.S. store sales declined 34%, which included a 32% decline in comparable branch store sales and a 42% decline in New York flagship store sales. Tiffany opened stores in Toronto (its second) and Guadalajara. Combined Internet and catalog sales in the U.S. declined 17%.
• In the Asia-Pacific region, first quarter sales declined 9% to $201.4 million. Results varied by country. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales declined 7% and comparable store sales declined 9%. The Company opened stores in Hangzhou, China and Busan, Korea, and closed one in Ikebukuro, Japan.
• In Europe, sales of $55.6 million were 8% below the prior year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, sales increased 18% largely due to incremental sales from new stores opened in the prior year, and comparable store sales rose 3%.
• The Company operated 209 TIFFANY & CO. stores and boutiques at April 30, 2009 (88 in the Americas, 97 in Asia-Pacific and 24 in Europe), versus 192 locations a year ago (81 in the Americas, 93 in Asia-Pacific and 18 in Europe).
• Other sales declined 43% to $7.0 million in the first quarter due to reduced wholesale sales of diamonds partly offset by higher sales in soon-to-be-closed IRIDESSE stores.

Other financial highlights were:
• Gross margin (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) was 55.6% in the first quarter, compared with 57.1% in the prior year, primarily due to higher product costs.
• Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses declined 15% in the first quarter, reflecting reduced staff and marketing costs, as well as variable cost savings tied to lower sales levels.
• Interest and other expenses, net in the first quarter were higher than the prior year primarily due to increased interest expense related to recent issuances of long-term debt.


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