Global net sales for luxury goods company Tiffany & Co. (TIF) were 1% lower for the third quarter of 2020 year over year, but this mild apparent decline conceals at least two positives. Tiffany once again topped $1 billion in quarterly net sales, an important milestone in its pandemic rebound. Plus, efficiency improvements caused net earnings to jump 52% year over year, or 73% excluding the costs of its merger with LV Moet Hennessy (LVMHF 1.61%).
Tiffany's results handily beat analyst consensus expectations according to data by Zacks Equity Research. Wall Street averages counted on $0.75 earnings per share (EPS), but the company delivered a 48% positive earnings surprise with an EPS of $1.11. EPS also jumped 70.7% from Q3 2019's $0.65 per share. The revenue beat for its $1.01 billion in sales was much slimmer at a positive 0.21% surprise.
CEO Alessandro Bogliolo noted "sales in Mainland China continued to grow dramatically in the third quarter, increasing by over 70%, with comparable sales nearly doubling" year over year. E-commerce sales rose to comprise 12% of total sales, a 92% year over year jump for the jewelry giant's online retail segment.
CFO Mark Erceg highlighted the internal factors causing Tiffany's vigorous net earnings boost. He remarked the company has been "very thoughtful and deliberate about cost management and capex spending," and enjoys strong liquidity. SG&A, or selling, general, and administrative costs, were cut 6% year over year, a $29 million savings.
The earnings report indicated the LVMH merger is still on track for early 2021, after multiple lengthy delays and even a squabble between the two companies involving lawsuits and countersuits. Given Tiffany's solid and improving performance emerging from COVID-19's fallout, the company will probably bring value to LVMH once the deal is finally sealed.