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Signet key revenue metric up 3.3 pct for holidays

NEW YORK (AP) -- Signet Jewelers Ltd. said Tuesday that its revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3.3 percent during the recent holiday season, boosted by higher demand at its U.S. Kay and Jared stores. Its shares rose 2 percent in premarket trading.

The revenue metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes sales at stores that recently opened or closed.

The Bermuda-based jewelry retailer said it saw particularly strong demand in the days leading up to Christmas. Strong sellers in the U.S. included bridal, branded and exclusive merchandise, along with colored diamonds, fashion jewelry and watches. In the United Kingdom, watches and branded jewelry were the top sellers, the company said.

For the nine-week period ended Dec. 29, the company said its U.S. revenue at stores open at least a year rose 4.7 percent. That included a 5.8 percent increase at Kay stores and a 4.8 percent jump at Jared stores. Regional brand stores posted a 4 percent decrease.

But revenue at the company's United Kingdom stores open at least a year fell 2.6 percent, as same-store sales at Ernest Jones stores dropped 5.5 percent and H. Samuel same-store sales edged down 0.5 percent.

Total sales for the nine-week period rose 7.1 percent to $1.24 billion, as U.S. sales increased 9.9 percent to $1.03 billion and United Kingdom sales fell 5 percent to $203.4 million.

CEO Mike Barnes said sales trends continue to be strong in the U.S. and have improved in the United Kingdom after the holiday season.

The company projected fourth-quarter earnings of $2.05 to $2.10 per share, while analysts polled by FactSet expect $2.08 per share.

For the full year ending Feb. 2, the company expects a profit of $4.28 to $4.33 per share. Analysts expect $4.30 per share.

Signet shares rose $1.15, or 2.1 percent, to $54.98 in premarket trading. They have been trading near their high end of their 52-week range of $40.74 to $53.83.