Reporting the first quarter financial results that ended April 30, 2012, Tiffany stated that its worldwide net sales soared by 8 per cent to $819 million, while comparable sales increased by 4 per cent. The net earnings with an increase of 1 per cent went to $0.64 per diluted share or $82 million, compared to $0.63 per diluted share or $81 million in 2011. Had nonrecurring items recorded in the first quarter of 2011 excluded, net earnings would have declined 5 per cent.
Net sales in the Americas region rose 3 per cent to $386 million, whereas in the Asia-Pacific region, it increased by 17 per cent to $195 million. Net sales in Japan were recorded as $142 million with a growth of 15 per cent. Similarly, sales in Europe too increased 3 per cent to $88 million. However, due to lower wholesale sales of finished products to independent distributors, other sales declined 14 per cent to $9 million. Gross margin declined to 57.3 per cent in the first quarter, from 58.3 per cent a year ago. The effective income tax rate was 34.5 per cent compared to 35.6 per cent a year ago. Short-term and long-term debt totaled $834 million at April 30, 2012 and represented 35 per cent of stockholders' equity, compared with $687 million and 30 per cent last year.
Marking the 11th increase in the decade, the company's Board of Directors approved a 10 per cent increase in the quarterly dividend rate. As outlook for 2012, the company expects worldwide net sales to be increased by 7-8 per cent, versus the previous expectation calling for 10 per cent growth. It also plans to add 24 company-operated stores including nine in the Americas, eight in Asia-Pacific, two in Europe, and commencing operation of five stores in the United Arab Emirates. Four of these stores were opened in the first quarter. Net earnings per diluted share are expected to be in the range of $3.70 - $3.80, compared to the previous forecast of $3.95 - $4.05 per diluted share.
Expanding its business, the company opened four stores in the first quarter: in Mexico City, Montreal, Salt Lake City and Wuhan, China. Tiffany & Co. operates jewelry stores and manufactures products through its subsidiary corporations. It operates 251 stores compared with 232 stores last year. The Company operates TIFFANY & CO. retail stores in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Japan and Europe and engages in direct selling through Internet, catalog and business gift operations.