Upscale leather goods manufacturer Coach Inc on Wednesday revealed it expects to beat Wall Street forecasts for the first quarter on the back of higher sales projections and better profit margins.

The New York-based company said in a statement it expects to earn at least 36 cents a share on revenue of $245 million compared to analysts' outlook of 34 cents a share for the quarter ending September 27.

The per-share figures do not include the two-for-one stock split payable around October 1.

Chairman and CEO, Lew Frankfort, said: "The strength that was evidenced throughout the spring has continued into the fall in all businesses. US comparable store sales are trending ahead of expectations led by retail stores, while we continue to experience double digit increases in same location sales in Japan this quarter.

"Over the summer, consumers responded strongly to our transitional handbag and accessory offerings. Our increased first quarter expectations are due to higher sales projections and further margin expansion."

He added: "Looking ahead, I'm confident that our well-received new offerings, fuelled by consistent product flow and a focussed gift assortment, will ensure continued superior financial results through the important holiday quarter and into calendar 2004.

"We now expect fiscal year 2004 sales of over $1.1 billion and diluted earnings per share of at least $1.95 on a pre-split basis."