tiffany
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Tiffany shines on demand from Asia

BY Marianne Wilson

A strong performance in Asia helped Tiffany & Co. beat fourth quarter expectations even as sales as its U.S. stores sagged.

The luxury jeweler reported net income of $157.8 million, or $1.26 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with $163.2 million, or $1.28 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for asset impairment costs, per-share earnings were $1.45, beating the per-share earnings of $1.37 that industry analysts had expected.

Total revenue in the quarter rose 1% to $1.23 billion, just ahead of analyst projections.

In the Americas, total sales in the quarter fell 3% to $587 million, and same-store sales declined 2%. For the full year, total sales declined 5% to $1.8 billion and same-store sales declined 6%. Management attributed the results to lower spending by U.S. customers and foreign tourists.

In addition, sales at Tiffany’s New York flagship store, where traffic has been impacted by security barricades around Trump Tower, declined 11% in the full year and 7% in the fourth quarter, and represented less than 10% of worldwide net sales in both periods.

"We attributed a portion of the softness in the U.S. throughout the year on local customers, which we believe was tied to macro market and political uncertainties," said Tiffany VP of investor relations Mark Aron on the company’s quarterly earnings call.

On the call, Tiffany forecast mid-single-digit percentage growth for full-year earnings per share, excluding some items.

“Despite macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges in the past year that we believe will continue in 2017, we strongly believe that Tiffany’s strategies are sound and that we have meaningful growth opportunities,” said Michael J. Kowalski, chairman and CEO. “Our management team is focused on accelerating the execution of our strategies to deliver extraordinary products, communications and experiences that will delight our customers around the world. Through strong leadership and this accelerated execution, we believe we are well-positioned to deliver attractive total shareholder return over the long-term.”

At January 31, 2017, Tiffany operated 313 stores (125 in the Americas, 85 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan, 43 in Europe, and five in the UAE), versus 307 stores a year ago (124 in the Americas, 81 in Asia-Pacific, 56 in Japan, 41 in Europe, and five in the UAE).

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Burrito chain adds New Jersey location

BY Al Urbanski

New Jersey’s answer to Chipotle has signed a lease for another location in that state.

Bubbako’s Burritos, a made-to-order chain that got its start in the popular Jersey shore town of Point Pleasant, has signed a lease for a 1,900-sq.-ft. restaurant at Aldrich Plaza in Howell. Other tenants there include Bed, Bath & Beyond, Retro Fitness, and Boston Market.

“We were able to provide Bubbakoo’s Burritos with a location that offers exceptional visibility, signage, and presence,” said Kyle Farley, a leasing agent for Levin Management, which handles Aldrich Plaza.

Bubbako’s offers burrito-lovers more than a dozen protein choices including buffalo crispy chicken, barbecue pork, sweet chili shrimp, and grilled steak.


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Amazon putting Alexa inside iPhones

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon is making it a lot easier for customers to speak with its voice assistant.

The online giant on Thursday started integrating Alexa into its main shopping app on the iPhone, with a full rollout expected by the end of next week.

Users will be able to ask Alexa for help with shopping, and also to stream books from their Kindle library, play media and request information such as news, weather or sports scores.

Tapping the microphone within the Amazon app will summon Alexa, then the user can start asking questions similar to the way it is done through such devices as Amazon Echo.

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