The Strong Dollar Affects Tiffany
Full year sales rose 2% in local currencies, but declined 3% as reported.
Tiffany & Co. reported its financial results for the 12 months («full year») and three months («fourth quarter») ended January 31, 2016. Throughout the year, results were pressured by the strong U.S.dollar, which had a negative effect on the translation of non-U.S. sales into dollars and on foreign tourist spending in the U.S., as well as, to varying degrees, the effects of macro-economic challenges and uncertainties on consumer spending.
Management issued its projections for 2016 (fiscal year ending January 31, 2017) calling for minimal growth in net sales on a constant-exchange-rate basis, and net earnings ranging from unchanged to a mid-single-digit decline compared with$3.83 (excluding charges – see «Non-GAAP Measures») in 2015, and free cash flow of at least $400 million.
On a constant-exchange-rate basis (see «Non-GAAP Measures»), worldwide net sales rose 2% due to higher sales in Asia-Pacific, Japan and Europe and comparable store sales were equal to the prior year. Reported in U.S. dollars, worldwide net sales declined 3% to $4.1 billion.
Net earnings of $493.8 million, or $3.83 per diluted share (excluding pre-tax charges of $37.9 million for two impairments of a loan made to a diamond mining company and $8.8 million for staffing and occupancy reductions) were 9% lower than last year’s $545.1 million, or $4.20 per diluted share, which had excluded a debt extinguishment charge (see «Non-GAAP Measures»); the decline was due to lower sales and higher selling, general and administrative («SG&A») expenses partly offset by a higher gross margin. On a reported basis, which included the charges in both years, net earnings per diluted share of $3.59 were 4% below the prior year.
Frederic Cumenal, chief executive officer, said, «We faced various challenges during the year that negatively affected our financial results, especially related to the strong U.S. dollar. However, our management team continued to pursue initiatives to strengthen Tiffany’s abilities to serve our clientele effectively and deliver extraordinary products and experiences. This included introducing a range of enticing new products spanning diamonds to silver jewelry, and enhancing our global store base. Worldwide sales growth of only 2% on a constant-exchange-rate basis, or down 3% as reported, along with the lack of earnings growth, did not meet the forecasts we had communicated at the start of the year; however, we were pleased with an increase in gross margin, strong free cash flow, and our ability to return cash to shareholders through another dividend increase and share repurchases.»