ring stock

Call it love in the time of Covid. Those TV commercials for Jared and Kay — as in "every kiss begins with ..." — may be cheesy, but they are working.

Millennials looking to get hitched are flocking to the two mall-based jewelry chains for engagement rings, and that's great news for their parent company, Signet.

Shares of Signet soared 6% Thursday to a new 52-week high after the company posted earnings that blew away forecasts. Sales topped estimates too, more than doubling from a year ago and rising 31% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Signet, which also owns Zales and Piercing Pagoda, raised its outlook for the year as well, citing strong demand both in its physical stores and online.

While the Delta variant is continuing to fuel Covid outbreaks across the nation, Signet CEO Virginia Drosos said consumers are more confident about the economy overall and millennials — who may have been on the fence about getting married during the pandemic — are now preparing to tie the knot.

It's a "rising tide of engagements," Drosos said on a conference call with analysts.

She added that the company's research "indicates 15% of committed couples, or approximately 2.3 million couples, plan to get engaged this calendar year, which is up high single digits [compared] to a typical pre-pandemic year."

Signet's bridal category sales increased by more than $150 million, or 25%, compared to the same quarter two years ago.

Drosos also noted that roughly 30% of engaged couples this year said they bought their ring online, more than double the levels of 2019. These younger shoppers, as well as more affluent older ones, also are willing to spend more for diamonds, gold and other high-end items.

As a result, Signet is adding higher-quality, more expensive jewelry to many of its stores.

"Confidence is highest among millennials and higher-income customers. Our recent research also shows that 80% of U.S. consumers believe they are the same or better off economically today than they were before the pandemic," Drosos said.

Signet's stock is now up more than 200% so far in 2021, which is a stunning turnaround after recent troubles: The company was the subject of allegations of a toxic workplace and gender pay inequality in 2019, and it settled a shareholder lawsuit last year for $240 million related to accusations that it concealed harassment.

The company also dropped its famous "He Went to Jared!" tagline in late 2018 as part of a marketing refresh.

CNN

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