Tiffany and Michael Kors Show Off Luxury Demand

Generally, luxury-goods retailers are not the best performers during periods of soft consumer spending. Purchases of luxury apparel, such as jewelry and expensive handbags, are usually delayed in favor of more essential items such as food and toilet paper. However, recent results from several luxury retailers show that demand is still strong for these discretionary items, as an uneven economic recovery has left higher-income consumers with even more to spend. Let's take a look at the results from Tiffany (NYSE: TIF  ) and Michael Kors Holdings (NYSE: KORS  ) .

Shiny numbers
Tiffany came out with some very strong numbers for its first-quarter report, alleviating concerns of a slowdown in the luxury-goods space. The company's net income soared 50% to $125.6 million, with earnings per share of $0.97 smashing the $0.78 analyst consensus. Revenue rose 13% for the quarter, also beating estimates, while comp-store sales increased by a very impressive 11%. Geographically, Asia Pacific did particularly well with a 17% increase in sales, while the America's delivered revenue growth of 8%.

The iconic jewelry-store chain managed to weather the winter chill better than most retailers, with Valentine's Day predictably providing a boost to sales. According to management, there was considerable strength in fine and statement jewelry, with an especially strong performance from the Atlas collection. The Atlas line is one of the company's lower-cost offerings, with pieces selling for as little as $125.

It's encouraging that the company has managed to diversify its product lines in order to cater to a wider range of consumers, and this should drive results going forward. Moreover, these more affordable items have a higher margin; and with several new lines set to launch in the fall, the company has raised its full-year profit forecast to $4.15-$4.25 per share, although this is seen as conservative by some.

All about the image
Michael Kors also hit it out of park, again. The company has delivered huge growth in recent times, and its latest quarterly report was no exception. Fourth-quarter EPS came in at $0.78, blowing away the $0.68 consensus and up a huge 56% year over year. Full-year earnings of $3.22 per diluted share also beat estimates, rising 63.5%. Fourth-quarter revenue came in at $917.5 million and rose 53.6% year over year, and same-store sales were up 26.2%. These are some very formidable figures.

Somehow, the company is delivering absolutely staggering growth in Europe, an area where many retailers are struggling to stay afloat. Revenue in this region ripped 125% higher on a 62.7% increase in same-store sales, which management attributed to the company's growing brand awareness. Still, the market's reaction to the report was muted, as investors appear to have become used to the company's growth story and remain focused rather on concerns over its margins.

The company is rapidly becoming the leading global lifestyle brand, and after having gained impressive market share in the handbag market at the expense of rival Coach is now looking to expand in things such as jewelry and shoes. The company's jet-set image is crucial to its success, and it has been successfully employing social media to promote this air of luxury with photos of celebrities wearing its outfits. Michael Kors now has some 13 million followers on Facebook, more than double Coach's number. As of yet, there seems to be no end in sight for Michael Kors' spectacular growth run.

The bottom line
Despite a weak consumer spending environment, people are still spending plenty of money on luxury accessories. This is clear from recent earnings reports from retailers such as Michael Kors and Tiffany. Tiffany's results got a boost from its more accessible product offerings, while Michael Kors is still witnessing explosive growth in Europe as its image of jet-set luxury lifestyles continues to gain global awareness. As such, these luxury retailers seem to be in good shape going forward.

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10/24/2014 4:03 PM
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Tiffany & Co. CAPS Rating: **

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