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Bear of the Day: Tiffany (TIF)

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There were retail winners and losers this holiday season. Tiffany & Company (TIF - Free Report) fell into the loser category as the company recently lowered fourth quarter guidance due to weak holiday sales. The stock recently fell to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). Everyone knows Tiffany. The famous luxury retailer operates 274 stores across the globe, with 115 of them in the Americas.

Disappointing Holiday Season

There were high hopes going into this holiday season, especially for the luxury retailers. The theory went that the high end consumer would keep spending despite fears of the fiscal cliff and possible higher tax rates and those aspirational consumers, who want to be in the high end someday, would splurge on a number of key brands.

But on Jan 10, Tiffany reported flat holiday comps. Most disappointing of all, it was a 2% same store sales decline in the Americas which really hurt. Even Asia-Pacific, which included a supposedly slowing China, grew same store sales at 7%. Europe's same store sales were flat year over year, but that was expected given the economic climate there.

Where did it go wrong? Silver sales were soft. The company also couldn't roll out a big Great Gatsby movie tie-in which was scheduled for the holiday season because Hollywood postponed the movie until late spring. But even still, earnings had been in decline well before the holiday quarter.

Guided On the Low End for Q4 and Conservative on F2013

On Jan 10, Tiffany guided to the low end of its Nov 29 guidance which was $3.20 to $3.40. This had already been lowered from previous guidance before that.

For 2013, it forecast earnings per share growth between 6% and 9% which was below the consensus. Since the announcement, 16 out of 16 estimates have been lowered for fiscal 2013. All of that pessimism has pushed the F2013 Zacks Consensus Estimate to $3.52 from $4.11, or earnings growth of 9.7%. That is STILL above the company's own consensus so it appears the analysts are giving Tiffany some benefit of the doubt.

If you think, with all the holiday problems, you could snag these shares at a discount, think again. Shares aren't much of a deal as they're trading with a forward P/E of 19.4. That is the company's 10-year average and it's well above the average of the S&P 500 of 13.5.

Tiffany is scheduled to report fourth quarter results on Mar 22 so investors will hear more about the 2013 outlook then.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for She is also the Editor of the Turnaround Trader and Value Investor services. You can follow her on twitter at @TraceyRyniec.

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