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Ralph Lauren tops revenue estimates, North America sales rebound

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today Nov 6, 2018
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Ralph Lauren returned to growth in North America in its second fiscal quarter as a strategy to intensify marketing on social media bore fruit, also helping the upscale fashion group top Wall Street revenue estimates on Tuesday.

Photo: Ralph Lauren


Its increased focus on social media is aimed at wooing more high-spending millennials as a lack of big discounts and promotions has shrunk its clientele in recent years.

The New York-based company said it spent about 30 percent more on marketing in the three months ended September, compared with a year earlier, targeting events including its 50th Anniversary Fashion Show and the New York Fashion Week.

Its revenue from North America rebounded, rising 1.4 percent after several quarters of declines.

Revenue overall rose 1.6 percent to $1.69 billion, better than analysts' expectation of a 0.9 percent fall.

Net income rose to $170.3 million or $2.07 per share in the second quarter ended Sept. 29, from $143.8 million or $1.75 per share a year earlier.

“As we execute our Next Great Chapter strategic plan, we are encouraged by the early progress we have made in the first half of this year on both the top and bottom-line,” said Patrice Louvet, president and chief executive officer. “Looking out to the remainder of the year, we are on track to deliver our full-year goals.”

Excluding one-time items, Ralph Lauren earned $2.26 per share, exceeding Wall Street estimates for the ninth consecutive quarter.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $2.16 per share and revenue of $1.65 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The fashion house also boosted its annual revenue projections, now forecasting net revenue to be unchanged or rise slightly from a year earlier, compared with a prior forecast of a slight decline.

FREIGHT RAISE

There was a shadow, however, on the upbeat earnings result. With the news update, Ralph Lauren said it expects higher tariff and freight-related costs to hit profits in the second half of its fiscal year.

Ralph Lauren - Spring-Summer2019 - Womenswear - New York - © PixelFormula


Rising freight and commodity costs, a result of a shortage of truck drivers, has plagued nearly every consumer goods company this year. In response, most companies including Ralph Lauren are offering fewer discounts to shield profits.

Ralph Lauren expects higher commodity and freight costs to reduce profit margins by between 30 and 40 basis points by the end of its fiscal year in March.

Meanwhile, its inventories climbed 15 percent in the quarter ended September as the company used less air-freight to keep costs in check while expecting future growth from store openings and online sales.

“They had a lot of excuses to why their inventory was up ... but you’re talking about a business that had a revenue increase of 2 percent against an inventory of up 15 percent,” Chief Executive Jane Hali of research firm Jane Hali & Associates said.

“That’s not a good story.”

Ralph Lauren shares have risen over 5 percent this month alone and have gained 32 percent this year. The stock was last down 7 percent at $127.27 on Tuesday morning.

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