Has Lululemon Figured Out the Magic Mix of Bricks and Ether?

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Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results after markets closed Wednesday afternoon. The yoga gear maker reported quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.85 on revenues of $1.17 billion, compared with EPS of $1.33 on revenues of $928 million in the same period a year ago. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $1.74 on revenues of $1.15 billion.

For the full year, analysts were looking for EPS of $3.75 and revenues of $3.27 billion. The company delivered full-year EPS of $3.84 and revenues of $3.29 billion, compared with 2017 EPS of $2.59 and revenues of $2.65 billion.

Total comparable sales for the quarter, including direct sales to consumers, increased by 17% year over year on a constant dollar basis. Same-store sales rose 7% and direct-to-consumer sales rose 39% on a constant dollar basis.

The massive jump in online sales is expected to continue in 2019, partly due to heavy investment and to the company’s introduction of clothing for men. Store traffic, both online and in the brick-and-mortar world, was higher in the fourth quarter than in any other period last year, according to conference call comments from the company’s chief financial officer, P.J. Guido, who added, “So then coming into 2019, we’ll continue to fuel traffic, but we’ll also invest to improve conversion both online and in-store.”

CEO Calvin McDonald commented, “lululemon has delivered one of its strongest years yet, a result of broad-based strength across the business.”

The better news from the company came in its outlook for the 2019 fiscal year. Lululemon forecasts full-year revenues of $3.70 billion to $3.74 billion and diluted EPS in a range of $4.48 to $4.55. Same-store sales are forecast to rise by low-double digits on a constant dollar basis. Analysts had been looking for EPS of $4.40 and revenues of $3.72 billion.

For the first quarter, Lululemon forecasts revenues of $740 million to $750 million and diluted EPS of $0.68 to $0.70. Same-store sales are expected to rise in the low-double digits. Analysts had previously forecast revenues of $0.68 and revenues of $743.7 million.

Lululemon repurchased 4.9 million shares of common stock last year at an average cost of $121.10 per share. The company also announced a new $500 million buyback program that will be completed over the next two years.

Lululemon’s shares traded up about 12.6% in Thursday’s premarket session to $165.25, above the 52-week range of $86.32 to $164.79. The consensus price target before last night’s report was $162.89.

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