UPDATE 2-Warnaco beats estimates, raises outlook; shares up

Thu Aug 7, 2008 11:28am EDT

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(Adds analysts' estimates, share activity, comments, byline)

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK Aug 7 (Reuters) - Strong international sales helped Calvin Klein jeans and underwear maker Warnaco Group Inc WRC.N report a higher quarterly profit on Thursday that zoomed past analysts' estimates and raise its 2008 outlook, sending shares up more than 7 percent.

The company, which owns or licenses brands including Calvin Klein, Warner's, and Speedo, said net profit jumped 40 percent in its fiscal second quarter to $19.4 million, or 41 cents per share, from $13.8 million, or 30 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding tax items, restructuring expenses and pension income, profit from continuing operations was 71 cents per share. That handily topped analysts' average estimate of 48 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net revenue rose 22 percent to $503.8 million, driven by a 51 percent increase in Europe.

"Europeans have a strong affinity for U.S. brands," said Brean Murray, Carret & Co analyst Eric Beder. "Calvin Klein is really very much considered a luxury brand in Europe and Warnaco has really been able to leverage that to drive higher margins and strong returns."

"For the suppliers that have the ability to expand internationally and have the infrastructure for it ... it's a very appealing concept, especially now with the weak dollar helping earnings," Beder said, a day after rival Polo Ralph Lauren Corp (RL.N) posted better-than-expected earnings, also helped by strength in Europe.

The weakness of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar and the euro added $17 million to revenue and $2 million to operating income, the company said.

Based on strong performance in the first half of the year, Warnaco said it now expects 2008 earnings, excluding items, of $2.80 to $2.90 per share from continuing operations and net revenue to grow 13 percent to 15 percent.

Analysts had been expecting earnings of $2.77 per share on revenue of $2.04 billion, based on the company's prior forecast, which called for earnings from continuing operations in the range of $2.65 to $2.75 per share and sales growth of 10 percent to 12 percent.

Warnaco shares were up $3.25 at $46.59 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Steve Orlofsky/Dave Zimmerman)

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