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Signet Jewelers Profit Rises - Update

Signet Jewelers Ltd. (SIG, SIG.L) Tuesday reported an increase in profit for the third quarter, as revenues and gross margins improved on strong performance at the Kay Jewelers chain. Earnings for the period came in ahead of estimates, while revenues fell short of expectations. Moving ahead to the next quarter, the specialty retail jeweler indicated concerns due to after effects of Superstorm Sandy.

Signet, which is the world's largest jewelery store retail chain, said its third-quarter sales inched up 0.8 percent to $716.20 million from $710.50 million last year. Analysts estimated revenues of $730.53 million for the quarter.

Third-quarter same store sales, or sales from stores open at least a year, improved 1.4 percent.

Sales from the US, where Signet operates stores under Kay and Jared brands, advanced 2.2 percent, with same store sales growth of 1.2 percent. The growth at Kay was driven by a 5.5 percent same-store sales increase, while Jared, which targets the upper-class market, slipped 4.1 percent.

In the UK, where Signet operates H.Samuel and Ernest Jones stores, sales dropped 4.7 percent, despite a same-store sales growth of 2.3 percent.

Gross margin, or gross profit as a percentage of revenues, advanced 50 basis points from last year to 32.9 percent.

Signet's profit for the third quarter improved to $34.9 million or $0.43 per share from $26.1 million or $0.30 per share last year. On average, 10 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.37 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Commenting on the fourth quarter, Chief Executive Mike Barnes said the disruption created by Superstorm Sandy has made November a "challenging" month. However, Barnes was positive and said "...we are well-prepared for the holiday season with exciting new merchandise, terrific marketing, and our talented well-trained sales associates ready to provide customers a great shopping experience."

For the fourth quarter, the company expects earnings of $1.95 to $2.10 per share. Analysts currently estimate earnings of $2.09 per share for the quarter.

Signet anticipates fourth-quarter same-store sales growth at a low single-digit on a 53-week basis and low-to-mid single-digit on a 52-week basis.

SIG is currently trading at $51.51, down $1.48 or 2.79%, on a volume of 0.9 million shares, on the NYSE.

by RTT Staff Writer

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