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The Associated Press November 22, 2011, 10:14AM ET

Signet Jewelers profit surges on strong US sales

Signet Jewelers Ltd. on Tuesday said its fiscal third-quarter earnings rose sharply, topping analysts' expectations, as strong sales at the retailer's U.S. stores offset slightly lower sales at stores open at least a year in the United Kingdom.

Signet reported net income of $26.1 million, or 30 cents per share, for the three months ended Oct. 29. That was up from $6 million, or 7 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected earnings of 21 cents per share in the latest quarter, on average.

Revenue rose nearly 10.7 percent to $710.5 million from $641.8 million. Analysts had expected $681.5 million in the latest quarter.

Shares of Signet rose $1.84, or 4.2 percent, to $45.38 in morning trading.

The Bermuda-based company said its sales at stores open at least a year -- an important measure of retailer performance -- grew 10.6 percent overall and 13.9 percent in the U.S, where Signet generates about four-fifths of its overall sales. The U.S. growth offset a 0.5 percent decline in same-store sales in the United Kingdom, where Signet operates H. Samuel and Ernest Jones stores.

In the U.S., overall sales at Signet's Kay Jewelers stores rose nearly 14 percent to $314.3 million, while sales at its more upscale Jared The Galleria locations jumped 18.4 percent to $194.6 million. Regional brands sales fell 3.9 percent to $54.1 million.

Expenses rose 9 percent to $219.6 million, in part due to higher spending on advertising.

Signet operated 1,860 jewelry stores as of Oct. 29, including 1,324 stores in the U.S. and 536 in the U.K.

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