US: Ralph Lauren outlook weak despite Q4 profit hike
- Q4 profit jumps 20.5% to $153m
- Revenues up 14% to $1.9bn
- Offers "concerning" fiscal 2015 guidance
Ralph Lauren's fourth-quarter revenues jumped 14% to $1.9bn
US apparel business Ralph Lauren has booked a double-digit hike in fourth-quarter profit, but issued what one analyst has described as "concerning" revenue guidance for fiscal 2015.
Net income reached US$153m for the three months to 29 March, compared to $127m in the same period last year.
Revenues jumped 14% to $1.9bn, driven double-digit growth in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It was also helped by a "robust" 24% wholesale sales gain and "strong" retail expansion. Licensing revenues, however, slipped 10% to $39m.
Gross margin dropped 310 basis points to 56.2%. The company attributed this to the mix impacts from the integration of the Chaps men's sportswear operations and stronger wholesale revenue growth, as well as negative foreign currency effects.
During the full year, net profit rose 3.5% to $776m from $750m last year, while revenues increased 7% to $7.4bn.
"Fiscal 2014 was another year of record sales and profits for us," said chairman and CEO Ralph Lauren.
The retailer expects fiscal 2015 net revenues to increase 6%-8%, and operating margin to decline 75-125 basis points, due to continued investments in its global retail development and infrastructure.
But UBS analyst Michael Binetti described the guidance as "concerning", with "no instant gratification". UBS guidance, he added, points to fiscal 2015 earnings per share of $8.35-$8.80 - below its $9.00 estimate.
For the first quarter, net revenues are forecast to rise 3%-5%, led by retail segment growth. Operating margin is expected to be approximately 300-350 basis points below the prior year period.
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