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Michael Kors to Step Up Retail Rollout as Profits Climb

The company posted a 36.7 percent gain in comparable-store sales and opened 67 stores since the end of the year-ago fourth quarter.

NEW YORK — Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. is keeping its foot on the accelerator.

The accessories and apparel brand said Wednesday it would open up to 50 stores in North America alone in the current fiscal year, as well as more units in Europe and the Far East, as the company seeks to maintain the momentum it has seen over the last few years. Kors shares picked up 3.2 percent on a down day on Wall Street following the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings report. The company said profits more than doubled from a year ago, driven by new store growth.

For the three months, net income more than doubled to $101.1 million, or 50 cents a diluted share, from $43.6 million, or 22 cents, a year ago. Total revenues rose 57.1 percent to $597.1 million from $380 million.

Revenues included a 59.1 percent gain in net sales to $577.4 million from $362.9 million. By category, retail net sales rose 58.8 percent to $272.7 million, driven by a 36.7 percent increase in comparable-store sales and 67 store openings since the end of the year-ago fourth quarter. The comps growth, driven by accessories and watch sales, represented the firm’s 28th consecutive quarter of comps gains in North America. Wholesale net sales were up 59.4 percent to $304.7 million, while licensing income rose 15.7 percent to $19.8 million, driven by strength in watches and eyewear.

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For the full year, net income more than doubled to $397.6 million, or $1.97 a diluted share, compared with $147.4 million, or 78 cents, last year. Total revenues rose 67.5 percent to $2.18 billion, which included a 69.3 percent jump in net sales to $2.09 billion.

Shares of Kors closed at $63.95 in trading Wednesday on the Big Board, with more than 14 million shares changing hands compared with a three-month average trading volume of 4.2 million.

John D. Idol, chairman and chief executive officer, said during a conference call to Wall Street analysts, “The year ended on a strong note with continued momentum in the fourth quarter as the brand’s strength, innovative fashion design and jet-set in-store experience drove strong sales and earnings across all businesses and geographies.…We expect fiscal 2014 to be another outstanding year for Michael Kors as we continue to execute on our growth strategies.”

Idol also spoke about sales trends and momentum in the business, noting “our sell-throughs are really extraordinary. You can even see by our inventories this quarter, as good as we are about chasing inventory, we just still couldn’t even chase it fast enough given the strong sell-throughs that we had at retail.”

He told analysts that the company’s global retail store base increased to 304 locations, including concessions, from 237 for the previous year. There are also 950 shops-in-shop globally in accessories, footwear and women’s wear. With 500 department store door conversions to date, the company has reached the halfway mark on its goal of 1,000 North American accessory shops-in-shop.

The average shop size of the stores, particularly in North America, is between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet, with productivity levels between $10 million and $15 million for certain freestanding sites. Some of those better-performing stores have to be increased in size, according to Idol, who told analysts “we are looking at upsizing a handful of stores more into the 5,000-square-foot range. And again, we will still be very, very productive upsizing into that. Believe it or not, not a lot of that space will go into actual more presentation of product. It will go into stock space inside the stores just to be able to service the daily and, in some cases, hourly needs of what is happening in these very, very high productivity stores.”

By geography, Idol said North American revenues for the quarter rose 52 percent to $517 million. In Europe, where the firm continues to see growing brand awareness, revenue rose 97 percent to $73 million. In Japan, revenues rose 96 percent to $7 million.

“Starting with North America, we expect to drive comp-store sales growth with the continued introduction of new luxury merchandise.…Today, we have 231 stores. We anticipate opening approximately 50 stores in North America in fiscal 2014. And still believe there is long-term potential for 400 locations in this region,” the ceo said.

He said growth in the region will come from continued conversion of department store doors into shops-in-shop in accessories, footwear and women’s wear, as well as expanding shops-in-shop in men’s sportswear and men’s leather goods. Idol said those two categories are viewed as “long-term growth opportunities for the company.”

Kors, which has 44 stores in Europe, plans to open another 40 in fiscal 2014. It’s also raised its store footprint target to 200 in Europe from initial projections of 150 sites.

In Japan, the firm has 29 stores and will open seven sites in the current fiscal year. It still believes the business in Japan can support 100 retail locations for the brand.

Other areas in the Far East, where the firm is still in the early stages of establishing the brand, will be through regional partnerships. The company increased its store base projections to 200 from 150, and will focus the growth of the brand in Greater China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2014, the company is guiding diluted earnings per share at between 46 cents and 48 cents on a revenue range of $555 million to $565 million. It expects a comps gain of 20 percent.

For the full year, the company said diluted EPS is expected at between $2.43 to $2.47 on a revenue range forecasted at $2.65 billion to $2.75 billion and a comps increase of 15 percent to 20 percent.