Apparel maker Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation is continuing to weather the economic downturn, and today (6 August) raised its full-year earnings guidance after first quarter profit jumped by 8%, boosted by strong sales in Europe and in its retail stores.

Net income rose to $95m, or $0.93 per share, from $88m, or $0.82 per share, for the same period last year, helped by a higher gross profit margin and a lower tax rate.

Higher global retail sales and favorable foreign currency effects also lifted revenues at the New York based global luxury lifestyle brand by 4%, to $1.11bn from $1.07bn last year.

Wholesale sales of $575m were flat with the prior year, with sales of its American Living line at JC Penney and strong growth in Europe offsetting lower domestic shipments of its core men's, women's and children's wear products.

Retail sales were up 9% to $492m from $450m, with comparable store sales up 3.9%.

By format, same-store sales rose 5.3% at Ralph Lauren stores, 3.3% at factory stores and 2.9% at Club Monaco stores. Internet sales increased 20%.

First quarter licensing royalties increased 1% to $47m from $46m, with growth in domestic Polo men's underwear and Chaps royalties, as well as revenue from new American Living product licenses, offsetting a decline in home licensing royalties.

"The global appeal of our iconic products continues to expand, and emerging merchandise categories are also gaining momentum," said Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer.

"Our lifestyle positioning is resonating with consumers worldwide, supported by our continued investment in advertising, marketing and public relations, including high profile events such as Wimbledon and the Olympics."

Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer, added: "Our first quarter results not only attest to the global desirability of our brands and products, but also to the fact that we are innovating, executing and merchandising at a higher and better level than ever before.

"While we continue to have a conservative view of the domestic retail environment, we are in excellent financial condition and will continue to invest in growing our business worldwide."

In its outlook for the full year, Polo Ralph Lauren said it expects revenues to increase by low-to-mid single digits, but raised earnings per share forecasts to $4.00-$4.10 from an earlier range of $3.95-$4.05.

The company operates 317 stores, including 81 Ralph Lauren stores, 65 Club Monaco stores, 160 Polo factory stores and 11 Rugby stores. Its international licensing partners operate 98 Ralph Lauren stores and 53 Club Monaco stores and dedicated shops.