Shaky economy? Tell that to the high rollers at Tiffany & Co.


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Call it the diamond defense: Helped by strong overseas sales and wealthy shoppers in its second quarter, venerable jeweler Tiffany & Co. rang up a 33% increase in net earnings.

In a “substantially higher-than-expected” boost, earnings worldwide leaped to $90 million, while sales were up 30% to $872.7 million, the company said.


Maybe it was their breakfast special that put a shine on the company’s earnings. But more likely, it was the customer base in Asia, where buyers pushed sales up 55% to $173.2 million. Even in earthquake-devastated Japan, sales were up 21%.

European jewelry lovers also helped, propelling sales in the region 32%. Sales in the Americas were also up, with a 25% gain to $438.2 million, as buyers stuffed their economic uncertainty into little turquoise boxes.

At Tiffany & Co., buyers were willing to “absorb precious metal and gemstone cost increases,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Kowalski.

High-income customers have turned increasingly to retail therapy, helping the luxury market rebound, though some analysts now worry that the fluctuating market may stem the growth.

Seeing the results, investors had some extra bling in their step, lifting the company’s stock more than 7% to nearly $68 in morning trading.



Video: Luxury shoppers are back

Luxury retailers worry that shoppers may pull back on spending

-- Tiffany Hsu