Yoga and athletic apparel maker Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) reported third-quarter fiscal 2012 diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39 on revenue of $316.5 million before markets opened this morning. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.27 on revenue of $230.2 million. These results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.37 and $305.3 million in revenue.
The company offered fourth-quarter revenue guidance of $475 million to $480 million on a same-store sales increase in the high single digits. EPS is expected to total $0.71 to $0.73. The consensus estimates currently call for EPS of $0.75 on revenues of $490.5 million.
For the full fiscal year, Lululemon expects EPS of $1.81 to $1.83 on revenues of $1.36 million to $1.365 billion. The current consensus calls for EPS of $1.82 on revenues of $1.36 billion.
The company’s CEO did some cheerleading:
I am very proud of the team for achieving yet another strong quarter coming in ahead of our expectations. Our stellar results were driven by first-rate execution, strong community engagement, beautiful product and continued strength in our ecommerce business.
Lululemon’s same-store sales rose 18% in the quarter on a constant dollar basis and gross profit rose 36%. Gross margin slipped slightly, from 55.8% to 55.4% year-over-year. Operating margins also slipped, from 25.9% to 25.5%.
The big issue for the company’s stock is the forecast for same-store sales growth. In the fourth quarter of last year, sales rose 26%. A forecast for growth in the high single digits simply lowers investors’ expectations. Lululemon may be being cautious (sandbagging?), but the firm’s guidance is not encouraging.
Shares are down about 2% in premarket trading this morning, at $67.25 in a 52-week range of $42.75 to $81.09. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $81.90 before today’s results were announced.