On Friday, Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) announced accelerating sales growth for its fiscal fourth quarter, which runs through Jan. 31.

Sales rose 3% after adjusting for currency exchange rate shifts and new store openings, compared to a 1% boost in the prior quarter. That result was at the high end of the updated outlook management had issued on Dec. 26.

Executives credited demand for higher value items -- particularly its gold and diamond offerings -- as boosting average spending while pressuring profitability last quarter. Gross profit margin fell to 63.3% of sales from 63.8% a year ago. Higher priced products carry a lower gross margin, management explained.

A woman shops for jewelry.

Image source: Getty Images.

The consumer discretionary retailer's operating trends following the close of the quarter are likely to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent store closings. The company lost nearly half of its retailing days in China since Jan. 24.

CEO Alessandro Bogliolo and his team said they are focused on navigating the company through this crisis following a strong finish to fiscal 2019. The company declined to issue an outlook for the current quarter or the fiscal year ahead, citing its upcoming merger with LVMH (OTC: LVMUY) that's expected to close by mid-2020.

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