Market Overview

Tiffany's Split From Swatch Far From Amicable


The play-by-play reads like that of a failed high-profile marriage between a billionaire and a wealthy socialite. The alliance of luxury goods producer Tiffany (NYSE: TIF) and Swiss watchmaker Swatch looked, on the surface, like a match made in heaven. Swatch needed a little bit of a freshen up, and who better to provide it than Tiffany's?

However, scratch that surface a little and there was more than a little trouble in paradise. The main aim of the alliance, formed in 2007, was, in fact, the help development, production and global distribution of Tiffany Brand watches. Swatch, of course, has plenty of experience in that area. Sadly, the wheels soon fell off the bus.

According to Fox Business, Swatch is claiming 3.8 billion Swiss francs ($4.1 billion) from TIF after the partnership dissolved last year. For their part, Tiffany is demanding CHF541.0 million from Swatch.

The partnership ended in September, according to Swatch, because of a breach of contract by Tiffany. The damages they are seeking include a claim for lost profits. Over the next two years, Tiffany Watch Company will wind down its business (no pun intended).

Swatch also said that Tiffany responded to the action by filing a counter-claim, blaming Swatch for failing “to provide appropriate distribution for Tiffany brand watches”. However, Swatch believes that those claims have no “factual or legal basis” and they intend to fight it.

Still sounds like a celebrity divorce, doesn't it?

When the alliance was first signed and sealed, it was hailed as historic but it never really took off as had been expected. Now, both companies will look elsewhere to expand their portfolios.

However, Tiffany recently unveiled a new collection, ROBEDO, which combines silver, gold and copper in a rose-gold-color line. According to a press release by Sterne Agee released on February 28, the collection features price points ranging from $200 to $8,000 and the initial pieces have been in select U.S. stores since mid-February. The worldwide rollout will occur in March.

“Our store checks suggest the line has been well received, especially pendants and necklaces priced from $275 to $1250. This new metal is lightweight but strong. The line offers a new interpretation of its 1837 collection and is inscribed with the signature of Tiffany's founder Charles Lewis Tiffany.”

In addition, Sterne Agee said that its checks suggest this line appeals to a wide age range of consumers who are looking for something more modern and flashy than the typical piece of silver jewelry. “The addition of low-cost copper (about $0.25 per ounce) to the metal permits Tiffany to provide the jewelry at a lower price point.”

So it would seem that Tiffany has moved on and found another love already.

Shares of Tiffany are currently trading near $69--almost unchanged on Monday's session. Within the last year, shares have traded as high as $83.82 and as low as $57.36. Shares are up just over 15% from last March.

Posted-In: SwatchNews Contracts Legal Analyst Ratings Best of Benzinga


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