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Tiffany Profits Dragged Down by Charges

Net falls 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter, but international expected to spur 2008 growth.

Special charges dragged Tiffany & Co.’s fourth-quarter profits down 15.8 percent, but the luxe jewelry retailer said it is poised for growth this year, with international expansion helping to offset weakness in the U.S.

Profits for the quarter ended Jan. 31 fell to $118.3 million, or 89 cents a diluted share, though sales grew by 9.8 percent to $1.05 billion. U.S. retail sales rose 4 percent while international retail sales shot ahead 21 percent.

Excluding charges related to lower-than-expected store performance, the discontinuation of certain watch models and a loan to the Tahera Diamond Corp. that went bad, Tiffany said earnings from continuing operations would have risen 14 percent to 1.27 cents a diluted share.

“Despite current uncertainties related to consumer confidence in the U.S., we will continue to take advantage of our strong balance sheet and infrastructure to pursue our planned expansion opportunities worldwide,” said Michael Kowalski, chairman and chief executive officer.

For all of last year, Tiffany’s profits advanced 19.6 percent to $303.8 million, or $2.40 a diluted share, on a 14.8 percent jump in sales to $2.94 billion.

This year, the company expects “robust” growth outside of the U.S. and Japan, with overall earnings of $2.75 to $2.85 a diluted share.

For complete coverage, see Tuesday’s issue of WWD.