Jewelry retailer Zale Corp. (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) will report earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 after market Tuesday. The company reports the same day as competitors Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) and Signet Jewelers Limited (NYSE:SIG). But it could prove a weak quarter all around as retail traffic slowed and there are no major holidays to provide a buying incentive.
Zale owns more than 1,700 stores that include the U.S. jewelry brands Zales, Zales Outlet, and Gordon's Jewelers as well as the kiosk business Piercing Pagoda. The company also has Canadian brands Peoples Jewellers and Mappins Jewellers.
The company has shifted focus to strengthening proprietary brands in recent years. A bridal line with fashion designer Vera Wang is receiving special attention going into the holiday season with store expansions and new product testing.
Here's what to watch in the Zale first-quarter earnings release.
Quarter estimates -- and results -- to beat
Analysts estimate revenue of $362 million and a loss per share of $0.85. Zale has beat estimates in four of the past five quarters but missed earnings-per-share estimates in three of those quarters.
The first quarter last year featured revenue of $357 million, which narrowly missed estimates but represented nearly 2% year-over-year growth. Zale also reported a loss per share of $0.88.
Comps were up nearly 4% overall. The U.S. jewelry brands showed a 4% comps increase while the Canadian stores were up 5.5% and the kiosks were up 2%.
The recently reported fourth quarter featured revenue of $417 million, which beat estimates and showed nearly 3% growth and a loss per share of $0.25. Comps were up 5.6% overall with the largest growth in the U.S. brands with more than 7% growth.
Comparing the competitors
Tiffany is more recession resistant than Zale since Tiffany's products are more of a luxury item regardless of the current economic climate. But Signet's stores Kay Jewelers and Jared: The Galleria of Jewelry have closer price points to Zale's products.
Analysts predict revenue of $888 million for Tiffany's third quarter with EPS of $0.58. Tiffany has narrowly missed revenue estimates for four of the past five quarters and missed EPS estimates in two of those quarters.
Signet Jewelers has analysts predicting revenue of $769 million for its third quarter with EPS of $0.42. The company has missed revenue estimates for three of the past five quarters but beat EPS estimates for all five.
Foolish final thoughts
The first quarter should prove light for Zale and the company could meet estimates, but don't expect a major beat. Holiday sales results will drive the next quarter report and prove more interesting detail.