The deal announced Monday values Tiffany at $135 a share, a 7.6 percent premium over Friday’s close. Shares closed up 6 percent at $133.25.
The jeweler Tiffany has struggled with weaker-than-expected revenue; sales fell 3 percent in the most recent quarter, and profits were down 6 percent. The company attributed those declines to slowing international tourism and a strong dollar.
“Tiffany has more or less been going nowhere for quite a few years,” said Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. “They’re trying to go down-market in price while trying to hold onto their core legacy customer, and I don’t think that’s been working.”
Still, the drop in receipts hasn’t shattered the nostalgia around Tiffany’s, long one of the best-known American jewelers. Those tiny pale-blue boxes have left a lasting mark in pop culture, from the Audrey Hepburn 1961 drama “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to the fanfare around Tiffany’s flagship Fifth Avenue storefront.
Chief executive Alessandro Bogliolo said in a statement that Tiffany has been focused on building sustainable long-term growth. The acquisition, “which occurs at a time of internal transformation for our legendary brand,” will help provide that support.
Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a research and consulting firm, said LVMH’s vast portfolio and financial heft make it “a powerhouse in luxury.” Tiffany “would not have been able to be as great in the next five to 10 years without the boost it’s getting from LVMH,” Pedraza said, especially if there’s another recession.
“I don’t think there’s many combinations where you could say both companies win in the short and the long term, and this is one of them,” Pedraza said.
Jewelry is one of the strongest segments of the luxury industry worldwide. According to Bain & Co., luxury jewelry sales rose 7 percent in 2018 to roughly $20 billion. The market for personal luxury items was nearly $290 billion last year.
Tiffany, which has more than 300 stores worldwide and about $4.4 billion in annual revenue, has experimented with how to become more relevant to younger audiences. In August, it rolled out its first comprehensive jewelry line for men, which included nearly 100 designs. But analysts were skeptical that Tiffany would be able to win over the average Joe and overcome its image as a woman’s destination for glitz and glamour.
The LVMH deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.