Has Lululemon Finally Turned the Corner?

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Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) reported first-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Tuesday. The yoga gear maker reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.34 on revenues of $423.5 million, compared with EPS of $0.13 on revenues of $384.6 million in the same period a year ago. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $0.33 on revenues of $418.94 million.

Same-store sales in the quarter slipped by 1% year over year on a constant dollar basis, while online sales rose 31% on the same basis. Direct-to-consumer sales now make up 19.7% of the company’s total sales, up from 17.4% in the same period of last year.

The company now expects second-quarter EPS in the range of $0.31 to $0.33 on revenues of $440 million to $445 million. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $0.34 on revenues of $439.78 million. In the year-ago second quarter, Lululemon posted EPS of $0.33 on sales of $390.71 million.

Lululemon raised its outlook for full fiscal year revenue from a prior range of $1.97 billion to $2.02 billion to a new range of $2.0 billion to $2.05 billion. EPS guidance was also raised, from a prior range of $1.85 to $1.90 to a new range of $1.86 to $1.91.

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The company repurchased 300,000 shares of stock in the first quarter at an average cost of $66.51 per share, for a total of nearly $20 million.

The company’s CEO said:

We drove positive trends in traffic, conversion, and brand engagement, along with a continued acceleration of our e-commerce business. To support our long term goals, we are intentionally striking a strategic balance between strong growth and investments within innovation and infrastructure.

Over the past 12 months, Lululemon’s stock has added more than 35%, with most of the increase coming since early last December. The 52-week high was posted in April, and shares have drifted lower since. The revenue beat and the increase in full-year guidance should give the shares a lift. Now that the company has some breathing space, it is time to see what CEO Laurent Potdevin means by a balance between growth and investments in innovation.

Lululemon’s shares traded down up about 2.5% in Thursday’s premarket session, at $63.00 in a 52-week range of $36.26 to $70.00. The consensus price target before this report was $67.15, and the high target was $85.00.

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