Shares of Tiffany (TIF - Get Report) are sliding after Citi downgraded the stock to Neutral, as the firm doesn't believe the jeweler's near-term business trends will improve. Analysts at Cowen and Goldman Sachs also had previously downgraded the stock after the company reported holiday sales well below expectations.
TRENDS UNLIKELY TO IMPROVE: Citi analyst Paul Lejuez downgraded Tiffany to Neutral from Buy, saying the stock has rebounded from the recent low but he lacks confidence as to when its near-term business trends will improve. Lejuez believes statement jewelry sales slowed over the Holiday season, which could be a pressure point in 2016. The analyst expects guidance to be "very back-half weighted" when the company reports its fourth quarter results on March 18, making the risk/reward less favorable near-term. However, he still believes Tiffany is a "strong global brand", capable of growing sales long term. The analyst lowered his price target on the shares to $78 from $86.
UNCONTROLLABLE RISKS: Last month, Cowen analyst Oliver Chen downgraded Tiffany to Market Perform from Outperform as he saw limited upside to valuation on "uncontrollable" risks. The analyst expects macro global challenges and volatility on Chinese tourism globally to limit revenue and earnings growth in the near term. However, Chen believes the Tiffany's global, long-term success remains "intact" and its fundamental foundation "solid". The analyst lowered his price target on the shares to $70 from $75.
MINIMAL SALES GROWTH: Goldman Sachs analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann downgraded Tiffany to Neutral from Buy back in January, after its holiday period sales fell below estimates, with comps decelerating sequentially across most regions. The "holiday sales disappointment" represents an incremental source of topline pressure that could remain for a few more quarters, with guidance calling for "minimal" sales growth in 2016, Drucker Mann told investors in a research note. The analyst lowered her price target on the stock to $71 from $96.
WEAK HOLIDAY SALES: On January 19, Tiffany reported worldwide net sales of $961M for the two-month period ended December 31, 3% lower than the same period a year ago, with a decline in the Americas and Asia-Pacific offsetting growth in Japan and Europe. Same-store sales fell 5% year over year, the company said. In addition, Tiffany expects fiscal 2015 net earnings to decline 10% from last year's $4.20 per share, it announced at that time.
PRICE ACTION: In early afternoon trading, Tiffany's shares were sliding almost 3% to $69.73.
Reporting by Jessica de Sa-Mota.