Ralph Lauren Company Earnings Weighed Down by Margin Forecast

Clothes on hangers
Clothes on hangers

Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) reported fourth-quarter and fiscal-year 2013 company earnings before markets opened this morning.

For the quarter, the apparel company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.41 on revenues of $1.64 billion. In the same period a year ago, Ralph Lauren reported EPS of $0.99 on revenues of $1.62 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.30 and $1.7 billion in revenues.

For the full year, the clothing maker reported adjusted EPS of $8.13, compared with a consensus estimate of $8.03.

Retail sales grew 7% in the quarter, but wholesale sales dipped 4% and licensing revenues were flat compared with the fourth quarter of 2012. Gross margins rose 2.2% to 59.3%.

The company's president and COO said:

Enhanced profit flow-through was achieved despite sustained macroeconomic challenges and strategic decisions that mitigated revenue growth during the year. We are excited about the Company's diverse and compelling opportunities for future growth, and have planned Fiscal 2014 as a year of accelerated investment in our highest priority strategic initiatives.

The company's fiscal year 2014 forecast calls for revenue growth of 4% to 7%, which includes a net negative impact of 1.5% related to currency translation effects. Operating margins are expected to slip by 25 to 75 basis points.

For the first quarter of 2014, Ralph Lauren expects a low-single digit increase in sales and operating margins to be 2% to 2.5% lower than the same period a year ago.

Lauren's stock price is up about 33% over the past 12 months, while competitor Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: KORS) is up more than 60% in the same period. Ralph Lauren's share price growth also trails PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH), which saw its stock price rise by more than 60%.

Ralph Lauren's shares are trading down about 3.8% this morning, at $181.00 in a 52-week range of $134.29 to $192.03. The consensus target price for the shares was around $193.15 before today's report.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Apparel, Earnings Tagged: KORS, PVH, RL