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No life of luxury: Tiffany plunges

May 24, 2012: 8:01 AM ET

What's Holly Golightly to do? Breakfast at Tiffany's is a decidedly ugly affair Thursday morning. Shares plunged more than 7% in heavy pre-market trading after the jeweler reported earnings that missed estimates and also issued guidance for the fiscal year that was below forecasts.

Is the bad news from Tiffany (TIF) a sign that even the most affluent of consumers around the world are starting to feel the pinch from what looks like a global economic slowdown? Perhaps.  In the company's earnings release, Tiffany CEO Michael J. Kowalski said that it was lowering its outlook due to " difficult year-over-year comparisons and decelerating rates of economic growth in many countries." Kowalski pointed out that worldwide sales are now expected to be up in just the low-single digits. Wall Street was expecting revenue growth of 9% for the fiscal year.

Go ahead. Open the blue box. It's a sales warning!

But it appears that the worst of Tiffany's problems are in its home market.  Tiffany said that sales in the Americas region were up just 3% in the most recent quarter, compared to growth of 15% in Japan and 17% in its Asia-Pacific unit. And the problems that Tiffany is facing don't seem to be limited to just the high-end of the jewelry market either.

Signet (SIG), which owns the Kay and Jared chains, reported Thursday morning that revenue for the fiscal first quarter missed estimates. It also lowered its sales outlook for the fiscal second quarter. I guess fewer future husbands ... went to Jared! Signet's shares sank (say that five times fast) 10% in pre-market trading.  Investors will want to keep an eye on other luxury retailers too today. Shares of bag maker Coach (COH) were down a tad. Saks (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWN) could get hit by the softness at Tiffany and Signet as well. So could the stock of online jewelry retailer Blue Nile (NILE).

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Paul Lamonica
Paul R. La Monica
Assistant Managing Editor, CNNMoney

Paul R. La Monica is an assistant managing editor at CNNMoney. He is the author of the site's daily column, The Buzz, and also tweets throughout the day about the markets and economy @LaMonicaBuzz. La Monica also oversees the site's economic, markets and technology coverage.

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