Why Ralph Lauren's Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of fashionista Ralph Lauren (NYS: RL) were bouncing around today, rising as much as 10% in early trading before watching that gain slim down to less than 4% as of this writing.

So what: It was Ralph Lauren's turn to report earnings today, and the results from the company's fiscal fourth quarter were pretty darn impressive. Sales for the quarter jumped 14% from last year to $1.6 billion, which was roughly in line with what Wall Street analysts were looking for. On the bottom line, a higher gross profit margin and a lower tax rate helped drive a 34% increase in earnings per share. The $0.99 in per-share earnings that the clothier reported was easily better than the $0.83 that analysts expected.

Now what: While the quarterly results helped drive investors to Ralph Lauren's shares, the company's outlook may have done a lot to moderate that excitement. The company's retail operations have been doing very well, but the wholesale business has been soft. For the full year, management sees "a low single-digit decline" in the wholesale division. In addition, the company is looking at Europe as a potential source of headwinds as the economic picture in that region continues to look grim.

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