Tiffany (TIF) still has a few minor hurdles to clear in meeting all of the closing conditions in its acquisition deal with global luxury retailing giant LVMH (LVMHF 3.19%) (LVMUY 3.19%). That buyout is scheduled to occur at approximately $135 per share in cash, which should keep the stock hovering just below that price between now and the closing sometime in mid-2020.
In the meantime, Tiffany is scheduled to issue a few material updates to its business trends, and one of the biggest such announcements came this week with its holiday season sales release. Let's take a look at how the luxury jewelry giant fared during the industry's biggest selling weeks.
Good global growth
Tiffany's preliminary figures showed that net sales rose by between 1% and 3% globally. Comparable-store sales, which strip out the impact of currency shifts and new store launches, improved by roughly 3% after falling 1% in the third quarter.
Looking deeper into the gains, Tiffany's growth varied between its major selling regions. Mainland China led the way with double-digit comps. The U.S. geography was also a success story as comps improved to 3% compared to a 4% decline through most of fiscal 2019. Executives highlighted that win in a press release, saying, "we are happy to see sales growth in the Americas, a momentum shift in the region."
Sales dove in Japan, which might seem like distressing news given the importance of that market to the consumer stock's overall results. However, management predicted a drop-off here tied to a new luxury tax that took effect just before the start of the fourth quarter. That tax likely caused sales in Japan to spike in Q3 and pulled demand forward from the holiday period. As a result, the Japan segment fell 12% during the holiday season after soaring 19% last quarter.
The results kept Tiffany on pace to meet its full-year outlook, which called for a pick-up in sales growth in the third and fourth quarters following a sluggish first half of the year. That acceleration started in Q3 as comps improved to a flat result from 3% declines over the prior six months. The rebound appears to have gained steam through the holiday season, just as CEO Alessandro Bogliolo and his team had predicted.
Investors will have to wait for Tiffany's full quarterly report in mid-March for updates on key financial figures such as gross profit margin, advertising costs, and capital spending. That announcement should also include detailed comments from executives about whether they see the U.S. sales rebound continuing to strengthen into 2020.
For now, shareholders should feel confident knowing that the retailer's global growth rate is improving even as it prepares to issue its final few quarterly reports as an independent public company.