Ralph Lauren Earnings Subdued by Revenue Miss, Softened Outlook

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Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) reported second-quarter fiscal 2015 company earnings before markets opened Wednesday. The apparel company posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.25 on revenues of $1.994 billion. In the same period a year ago, Ralph Lauren reported EPS of $2.23 on revenues of $1.92 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $2.06 and $2.02 billion in revenues.

Retail sales grew 7% in the quarter, and wholesale sales and licensing revenue both rose 2% compared with the same period last year. Gross margins rose 0.2% to 56.8%.

The company’s president and COO said:

Despite the challenging global macroeconomic environment, we continue to experience strong momentum in key areas of strategic focus, including double-digit revenue growth internationally and for our e-commerce business. … I am confident we are well-positioned for the upcoming Holiday season, supported by the distinctiveness of our luxury lifestyle positioning and the desirability of our products.

For the fiscal third quarter, Ralph Lauren expects net revenues to rise by 3% to 5%, including a negative impact of 20 basis points related to currency translation effects. Operating margin is projected to be 1.0% to 1.5% lower than the same period a year ago due to higher cost of goods and incremental investments in growth. The consensus estimates call for EPS of $2.81 on revenues of $2.18 billion. Even the high end of Lauren’s revenue range is well below the consensus estimate.

The company’s lowered its fiscal year 2015 revenue forecast from a prior growth estimate of 6% to 8% to a new range of 5% to 7% and operating margin is still expected to fall by 75 to 125 basis points below last year’s level. The company said the downward revisions are the result of negative foreign currency movements. The top end of the company’s revenue range would be slightly above the consensus estimate.

Ralph Lauren’s stock price is down nearly 9% year-to-date, while competitor Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: KORS) is down about 3.7% in the same period. Ralph Lauren’s share price decline is not as bad as that of PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH), which has seen its stock price drop by more than 15% year-to-date.

Ralph Lauren’s shares traded down about 2.5% Wednesday morning, at $156.95 in a 52-week range of $141.93 to $181.07. The consensus target price for the shares was around $180.00 before this latest report.

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