May 23, 2018 / 12:18 PM / a month ago

Ralph Lauren racks up earnings beat, shares jump 16 pct

(Reuters) - Ralph Lauren Corp (RL.N) topped analysts’ forecasts for profit and sales for at least the eighth consecutive quarter on Wednesday, as an early Easter added to a turnaround driven by tougher pricing and cost cuts.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past Ralph Lauren Corp.'s flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Shares of the luxury designer surged 16 percent after reporting a 5 percentage point jump in fourth-quarter margins that vindicated a strategy of keeping stock levels tight and selling more products at full price.

Like fellow luxury goods makers Tapestry Inc (TPR.N) and PVH Corp (PVH.N), the New York-based fashion house has been looking to regain some of its lost brand desirability by pulling out of department stores where handbags and clothes are heavily discounted.

Patrice Louvet, who completed his first full year as chief executive officer of Ralph Lauren in May, has also looked to more celebrity “influencers” like Emma Watson and Jay-Z to wear his company’s clothes.

Sales continue to fall, but the 1 percent drop in same-store figures in the fourth quarter ended March 31 was less than a 2.3 percent drop expected by analysts, according to Consensus Metrix.

“Today’s results from Ralph Lauren confirm that the company is headed slowly in the right direction,” Neil Saunders, managing director of market research firm GlobalData Retail, said in a note.

Shares of Ralph Lauren, known for its signature Polo shirts and classic tweed blazers, rose to a two-and-half-year high of $135.39 in morning trade.

The company said adjusted gross margin was 59.8 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 55.4 percent a year earlier.

Net revenue fell 2.3 percent to $1.53 billion but was above an average analyst estimate of $1.48 billion.

The company said it expected to improve sales trends across all its regions and generate online sales growth in the 2019 fiscal year by investing more in marketing on Instagram, Snapchat and other youth-friendly social media.

The company also forecast total comparable store sales to be flat to down low-single digits. Analysts were expecting a 0.4 pct decline, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Ralph reported net income of $41.3 million, or 50 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $204 million, or $2.48 per share, a year earlier.

The company had $322 million restructuring charges in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding items, earnings were 90 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a profit of 83 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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