Lululemon shares soar 10% as strong holiday sales fuel earnings beat

Lululemon shares soared 9 percent after the market closed Wednesday as fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales outpaced analyst estimates. Read more...

Lululemon shares soared 10 percent after the market closed Wednesday as fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales outpaced analyst estimates.

Here’s what the retailer reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.85 per share, vs. $1.74 per share
  • Revenue: $1.17 billion, vs. $1.15 billion
  • Same store sales: rise 16 percent, in line with estimates

“Lululemon has delivered one of its strongest years yet, a result of broad-based strength across the business,” CEO Calvin McDonald said in a press release. “We are energized to build upon our momentum and to seize the many opportunities ahead for Lululemon around the world.”

In the quarter ended Feb. 3, Lululemon said net income rose to $218.5 million, or $1.65 per share, from $119.8 million, or 88 cents per share. Excluding items, the retailer earned $1.85 per share, topping estimates of $1.74 per share.

Strong sales during the holiday quarter helped the company reach its goal of exceeding $1 billion earlier than expected. Revenue rose to $1.17 billion from $928 million in the year-ago quarter.

Lululemon’s Chief Operating Officer Stuart Haselden said the company’s operating margin was 21.5 percent, another goal it reached two years ahead of schedule.

Sales at stores open at least 12 months rose 16 percent, in line with estimates. After adjusting for currency fluctuations, same-store sales were up 17 percent. Both measures exclude revenue from the last week of fiscal 2018.

McDonald said Lululemon’s expansion into men’s apparel is the retailer’s largest, most exciting segment for future growth, at just over 20 percent penetration today. Specifically, the men’s “bottoms” segment has been extremely profitable.

“We really believe that Lululemon can be a duel gender brand and that our men’s business can ultimately be as big as our women’s,” said Haselden.

Earlier this month, Lululemon announced that former Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl quarterback Nick Foles signed on as the brand’s first men’s ambassador. Although acknowledging Foles’ high profile, Lululemon said they do not pay typical endorsement fees and instead look to partner with athletes that align with the brand’s values.

With its core women’s business, it is trying to expand offerings for the office, travel, commute, outerwear, and bras, McDonald said. Developing gear for warm weather runs is another opportunity.

“Lululemon is selling more to its existing shoppers and is taking a greater share of their wallets,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “Part of this is down to the expansion into non-traditional fitness categories such as business casual.”

Lululemon’s profitability in Asia and Australia more than offset the operating loss in Europe. Now with 21 stores in Europe, the retailer said it was about a year and half away from breaking even in Europe.

Seasonal stores have also proved successful for the company. Chief Financial Officer Patrick Guido said they are a low-risk way to build the brand and gage the market.

In fiscal 2019, the company expects to report earnings of between $4.48 and $4.55 per share, ahead of analyst estimates of $4.40 per share. Lululemon expects revenue in the range of $3.70 billion to $3.74 billion, higher than the forecast of $3.27 billion.

For the first quarter, Lululemon expects to see revenue between $740 million and $750 million, in line with estimates of $743 million. The company sees earnings per share between 68 cents and 70 cents, slightly higher than the 67-cent expectation.

The retailer also announced a $500 million stock repurchase program.

The Vancouver-based company’s shares are up more than 80 percent over the past 12 months and more than 20 percent year to date, more than double the S&P 500 Retail ETF’s (XRT‘s) growth of about 8.5 percent.

Lululemon’s investor day is scheduled for April 24.

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