Ralph Lauren Corp. posted a 27 percent increase in its fiscal third-quarter profit as the designer clothing company enjoyed continued momentum in spending among its affluent shoppers in the U.S. and improving trends in Europe.
The news sent shares of the company up nearly 8 percent in morning trading.
The results, announced Wednesday, offer evidence that the affluent continue to spend despite an uncertain economy. The owner of the Ralph Lauren Collection and Polo by Ralph Lauren brands sells its products at department stores, its own shops and through other retailers.
"Our third quarter performance is a testament to the enduring appeal of our brand and the dedication of our passionate team," Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "Our orientation as a design-led, marketing and merchandising organization has enabled us to deepen our connection with our customers, particularly as we expand our portfolio of products and lifestyle sensibilities." The New York-based company said it earned $215.7 million, or $2.31 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 29. That compares with $169 million, or $1.78 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 2.2 percent to $1.79 billion.
Analysts had expected earnings of $2.20 per share on revenue of $1.85 billion, according to FactSet.
The company said that its wholesale segment's sales of $734 million in the third-quarter were 2 percent below the year before. The business has been dragged down by the discontinuation of its American Living brand to J.C. Penney and a planned reduction in shipments to certain European customers. A negative impact from foreign currency translations more than offset continued growth in core and emerging merchandise categories in the Americas.
Retail sales rose 6 percent to $1.1 billion from $1 billion in the year-ago period. Revenue at stores open at least a year rose 4 percent during the third quarter.
The company estimated that the disruption caused by superstorm Sandy that hit the East Coast in late October depressed third-quarter comparable sales by 1 to 2 percentage points.
Ralph Lauren said that as a result of better-than-expected profitability in the first nine months of the year, it now expects operating margin from continuing operations for fiscal 2013 to be about .75 to 1 percent point above the year-ago period.
That's above its earlier expectation of a .50 percentage point improvement.
For the fourth quarter, Ralph Lauren said it expects its consolidated net revenue to be up by a mid-single-digit percentage, reflecting an 8 percent to 11 percent increase in retail revenue and flat wholesale revenue. Assuming a 5 percent increase, that would mean revenue would reach $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter.
Analysts expect $1.74 billion, according to FactSet.
Shares of Ralph Lauren rose $12.61 to $177.52 in morning trading.