Tiffany's Stock Loses Its Luster After Ratings Cut

Robertson Stephens is concerned by the upscale jeweler's weaker than expected U.S. retail sales in November and December.

Shares of Tiffany's (TIF ), the jeweler whose gems come wrapped in distinctive robin's egg blue boxes, fell 16.5% after Robertson Stephens lowered its long term investment rating on the stock to attractive from buy, citing a decline in retail sales in November and December.

Tiffany's stock was off 6-1/8 to 31 after analyst Janet Joseph Kloppenburg said the company's November and December U.S. retail sales declined 3%, while she had predicted an 8% increase in sales. Tiffany's international sales, however, had not lost their shine.

Given the company's significantly lower than expected holiday sales, Kloppenburg cut her fourth quarter earnings per share estimate to $0.55 from $0.65 and her fiscal year 2001 EPS estimate to $1.25 from $1.35. The fiscal year 2002 estimate was also pared back to $1.38 from $1.56.

Kloppenburg noted that Tiffany's shares are trading ahead of the projected 22% secular growth rate, which is a rate that she believes could prove difficult for the company to achieve in near term.

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