Goldman downgrades Tiffany shares on ‘fresh weakness’ in sales of higher-priced jewelry


Sanjit Das | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Pedestrians walk past the entrance to a Tiffany & Co. jewelry store in the central business district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tiffany’s sales problems are not likely to be fixed anytime soon, according to a top Wall Street firm.

Goldman Sachs lowered its rating for Tiffany shares to neutral from buy, predicting difficulties in the company’s higher-end luxury goods segment even though new management is working to revive revenue growth.

“We remain constructive that new leadership and product initiatives set the stage for accelerating top-line growth over time,” analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann wrote in a note to clients Friday. “However, fresh weakness in Tiffany’s highest price point categories leaves us concerned that the turnaround timeline is pushed further out.”

Tiffany’s comparable sales growth in the Americas and Asia Pacific regions declined 1 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in the second quarter of this year “despite easy multi-year comparisons.” The company reported an overall comparable sales decline of 2 percent in the July quarter.

The analyst noted weakness in Tiffany’s higher-priced categories, including engagement, wedding, high, fine and solitaire jewelry even though it has improved results in lower-priced designer and fashion categories. “Tiffany has improved its lower price point Designer and Fashion offering, but we are concerned that stabilizing high-end categories will be more challenging.”

Drucker Mann lowered her Tiffany price target to $94, which is 5 percent higher than Thursday’s closing price. Her previous price target was $106.

Without a solid rebound in revenue, “We see limited room for multiple expansion from here,” she wrote.

Tiffany shares are up 16 percent year to date through Thursday versus the S&P 500’s 12 percent gain. Its stock fell 3 percent shortly after the opening of trading Friday after the report.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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