February 13, 2008, 12:00 AM

After a flashy finish in 2007, Blue Nile sees duller times ahead

Blue Nile is reporting a bright finish to 2007, but already warning of duller sales in 2008. In the first quarter the company expects revenue to remain flat.

Blue Nile Inc. is reporting a bright finish to 2007, but already warning of duller sales in 2008.

In 2007, Blue Nile reported net income of $17.5 million on net sales of $319.3 million vs. net income of $13 million on sales of $251.6 million in 2006. In the fourth quarter the company, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also reported net income of $7.5 million on sales of $111.9 million, compared with net income of $5.8 million on revenue of $90.7 million in the prior year.

“We are very pleased with our financial performance for the fourth quarter, which reflects excellent growth in sales and profitability. We believe our results are even more impressive given the overall weakness in the retail jewelry category during the holiday season,” says executive chairman Mark Vadon. “2007 was exceptional for Blue Nile -- we delivered outstanding sales growth, even stronger earnings growth and ended the year with a very healthy cash balance of $123 million. We expanded our market share domestically and made significant progress in our international business.”

Despite a robust 2007, the company also is forecasting slower growth in 2008. In the first quarter the company expects sales to remain flat and to grow by a minimum of 10% for the year. “Given the current economic environment, we believe it is prudent to be extremely cautious in our expectations for the year,” Vadon says. “There is tremendous uncertainty in the luxury retail sector, which is experiencing a widely reported consumer slowdown.”

On a separate note, Blue Nile also is promoting president Diane Irvine to chief executive officer. Irvine began her tenure at Blue Nile as chief financial officer.

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