• Q4 profit surged 153% to $114m
  • Revenues rose 9% to $1.3bn
  • Plans "aggressive acceleration" of growth initiatives

Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation today (19 May) said it is planning "aggressive" growth of its business both in international markets and by selling direct to consumers, after its fourth quarter profit more than doubled.

"Our fourth quarter and full year results exceeded our expectations on virtually all operating metrics," said Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer.

"After generating more than $900m in cash from operating activities last year, and with more than $1.2bn in cash and investments on our balance sheet, we are planning an aggressive acceleration of our investment in our growth initiatives during fiscal 2011, particularly in international markets and with our direct to consumer efforts."

Net income surged 153% to $114m or $1.13 per share in the quarter, compared with $45m or $0.44 per share, a year earlier. Excluding charges, last year's profit would have been $87m.

Revenues rose 9% to $1.3bn from $1.2bn, with a 31% hike in retail sales partially offset by a 3% decline in wholesale revenues.

Retail sales rose to $554m from $422m, helped by a 17% jump in same-store sales at the company's freestanding stores worldwide.  Ralph Lauren stores were up 17%, factory stores increased 9% and Club Monaco surged 29%.

Online sales jumped 39% in the quarter.

But wholesale sales dropped to $736m from $756m as lower global apparel shipments were partially offset by higher footwear sales.

Licensing royalties were flat at $47m as higher domestic revenues were offset by a decline in international licensing revenues.

During the year, profit rose 18.2% to $480m or $4.73 per share, up from $406m or $4.01 per share the year before.

"We achieved record earnings for the year in the context of the worst financial recession in my lifetime," said chairman and CEO Ralph Lauren, adding that taking control of its Asian operations and opening several luxury stores in key global markets were notable achievements for the firm.

Annual revenues fell 1% to $5.0bn, which the company blamed on lower global wholesale shipment volumes that were partially offset by higher retail segment sales.

Wholesale revenues for the year were down 8% to $2.5bn, and licensing royalties fell 6% to $183m.

But retail sales were up 9% to $2.3bn, helped by a 1% rise in same-store sales.

Tight control of inventories led to reduced markdowns, and helped lift margins in both the wholesale and retail segments - leading to 720 basis points hike in fourth quarter gross profit rate of 59.0%. For the year, the rise was 380 basis points to 58.2%.

Looking ahead, the company expects consolidated revenues to increase at a low double digit rate.

Wholesale revenues are seen rising at a low double digit rate in the first quarter and comparable store sales are projected to increase by a high single digit rate.