Tiffany & Co. Boosts Dividend, Resumes Buybacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. said Thursday that it will raise its regular quarterly dividend by 3 cents to 20 cents and will start buying back some of its stock again in the wake of reporting better-than-expected holiday sales.

Tiffany had suspended stock repurchases in the 2008 third quarter in order to preserve cash. A buyback program that expires in January 2011 currently authorizes the repurchase of up to $402 million worth of stock.

The luxury retailer, known for its silver jewelry and diamond engagement rings packaged in signature blue boxes, will pay the raised dividend in April.

High-end retailers have been hit hard by the recession, as consumers steered clear of making large purchases. But last week Tiffany reported that its worldwide sales climbed 17 percent in November and December as shoppers seized on all sorts of products at a variety of prices. The recovery in holiday sales allowed it to raise its annual profit guidance.

The company’s stock shed $1.22, or 2.8 percent, to $41.88 in afternoon trading, as the broader market also declined.

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