Why Ulta Beauty Shares Are Making a Run

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When Ulta Beauty Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) reported its fiscal first-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Tuesday, the company said that it had $1.91 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.31 billion in revenue. The consensus estimates had called for $1.79 in EPS and revenue of $1.28 billion. In the same period of last year, the company posted EPS of $1.45 and $1.07 billion in revenue.

Comparable sales (sales for stores open at least 14 months and e-commerce sales) increased 14.3%, compared to an increase of 15.2% in the first quarter of fiscal 2016. The most recent comparable sales increase was driven by 8.7% transaction growth and 5.6% growth in average ticket.

Retail comparable sales increased 10.9%, including salon comparable sales growth of 9.9%.

In terms of the outlook for the fiscal second quarter, the company expects net sales between $1.26 billion and $1.28 billion and EPS in the range of $1.72 to $1.77. The consensus estimates are $1.77 in EPS and $1.27 in revenue.

During the first quarter of fiscal 2017, Ulta repurchased $51.6 million worth of common stock. At the end of the quarter, roughly $394.5 million remained available under the $425 million share repurchase program announced in March 2017.

On the books, Ulta Beauty cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totaled $471.7 million, up from $369.3 million in the same period of last year.

CEO Mary Dillon commented:

The Ulta Beauty team kicked off 2017 with excellent performance in the first quarter. Strong execution of our growth strategies delivered above plan sales and earnings growth. Our results reflect continued newness and innovation in merchandising, successful marketing programs, steady progress in our salon business and exceptional growth in e-commerce.

Shares of Ulta closed Thursday up 4.5% at $293.04, with a consensus analyst price target of $309.82 and a 52-week trading range of $225.13 to $301.40. Following the release, the stock was last seen up over 3% at $302.80 in early trading indications Friday.