New York -- Tiffany & Co.’s fourth-quarter net income inched up 0.7%, but its results still topped analysts’ predictions as strong demand in Asia helped to offset domestic weakness. The company also offered an annual sales outlook that topped analysts' estimates, citing its strong prospects in most Asian markets.
For the quarter ended Jan. 31, Tiffany earned $179.6 million, compared with $178.4 million in the year-ago period. Revenue increased 4% to $1.24 billion.
"While financial results in fiscal 2012 were disappointing due to lower-than expected sales growth and pressures on gross margin, we continued to maintain a longer term focus on strengthening global awareness of the Tiffany & Co. brand," said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany's chairman and CEO.
Total sales in the Americas region, which represented 48% of the company’s total revenue last year, rose 2% to $620 million in the fourth quarter and 2% to $1.8 billion in the full year. Same-store sales were down 2% in the fourth quarter and the full year.
Sales in Tiffany’s New York flagship fell 3% in both the quarter and full year, and were down 2% at its branch locations for both periods.
In the Asia-Pacific region, total sales increased 13% to $254 million in the fourth quarter and 8% to $810 million in the full year.
In Europe, total sales rose 3% to $146 million in the fourth quarter due to mixed performance by country and also rose 3% to $432 million or 11% of worldwide sales in the full year.
The New York-based jewelry company also says it expects its first-quarter earnings from operations will fall about 15% to 20% as a result of profitability pressures and higher marketing costs, but pick up later in the year.