By  on May 31, 2007

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. posted fourth-quarter results ahead of Wall Street's expectations, but said full-year 2008 earnings per share would be lower due to costs associated with several acquisitions.

For the three months ended March 31, net income rose 17.1 percent, to $73.2 million, or 68 cents a diluted share, from $62.5 million, or 58 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts' consensus estimate was 62 cents.

Total revenues for the period were up 6.1 percent, to $1.03 billion from $971.6 million. Gains included a 9.6 percent jump in wholesale sales, to $628.9 million, and a 3.4 percent increase in retail sales, to $346.2 million; the balance came from licensing income. At retail, total company same-store sales rose 6.3 percent.

"We have made significant progress on all fronts, from opening new luxury stores to initiating steps to expand our accessories business in new categories such as watches and fine jewelry, to taking direct control of our Japanese business and our Internet business," Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Lauren added, with pride, that the "brand's reach has grown to more than 80 countries and now represents more than $10 billion in retail sales worldwide."

By operation, comps at Ralph Lauren stores rose 6.7 percent and at factory stores were up 6.3 percent. Club Monaco stores gained 5.3 percent. Sales at Polo.com were down 32 percent, excluding the impact of conforming Polo.com's fiscal-year reporting period in the fourth quarter a year ago, but comps rose 27 percent.

For the year-end period, profits jumped 30.2 percent, to $400.9 million, or $3.73 a diluted share, from $308 million, or $2.87, a year earlier. Total revenues rose 14.7 percent, to $4.3 billion from $3.75 billion.

During the year, the company made a number of acquisitions, including a 50 percent stake in Ralph Lauren Media that it did not previously own. The company also acquired the Polo Ralph Lauren Leathergoods business, and conducted a tender offer for almost all of the outstanding shares of Impact 21, its Japanese sublicense for men's and women's apparel, accessories and jeans. It acquired the remaining 50 percent stake of New Polo Japan, the company's master licensee in Japan.

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