Tiffany's 4Q comp shows why luxury still strong

New York -- Despite continued weakness in the overall economy, middle and upper-class consumers appear to remain little affected by the downturn, as evidenced by Tiffany & Co.'s U.S. same-store sales growth of 9% during its fiscal fourth quarter. Worldwide sales were up 12% for the quarter.

Michael Kowalski, chairman and CEO, said, "These strong fourth quarter sales, which were better than the holiday results we had previously reported, were the culmination of an excellent year of strong earnings growth for Tiffany. Our broad-based success reflected healthy comparable-store sales growth and successful new store openings in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe, and highly successful new product introductions including our extraordinary yellow diamond collection. And we are enormously excited about the numerous global expansion opportunities that we will be pursuing in 2011."

The company reported that net earnings from continuing operations rose 31% to $181.2 million, or $1.41 per diluted share, versus $138.2 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, last year.

The company opened nine TIFFANY & CO. stores in the fourth quarter, and opened 15 in the full year.

For the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2012, the company is expecting worldwide net sales growth of 12% to 14%, net earning growth of 14% to 18% to $3.35 to $3.45 per diluted share.