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NEW YORK — Coach Inc., the maker of leather handbags and accessories, Tuesday raised its quarterly earnings forecast as strong sales and higher margins helped it rise above the weak retail environment.

This story first appeared in the September 4, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

New York-based Coach said it now expects earnings to be at least 21 cents a diluted share and sales to increase to between $185 million and $190 million for the first quarter ending Sept. 28. This compares with prior-year earnings of 14 cents a share and sales of $150.7 million. Analysts’ consensus estimates are currently 18 cents.

For the current quarter to date, Coach also said same-store sales are up 10 percent. Comparable-store sales also are up by a double-digit percentage in Japan, a key growth market for the company.

“The momentum that was evidenced throughout the spring has clearly continued into the first fiscal quarter in all businesses,” Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

He noted that, over the summer, consumers responded to Coach’s transitional handbag and accessories offerings as well as its just-introduced fall handbags in leather and suede combinations, including new styles of Hamptons.

The upbeat forecast helped elevate Coach shares $1.49, or 6.1 percent, to close at $26.12 in New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday, even as the major indices declined precipitously. The stock has more than doubled since it slumped to its 52-week low of $10 on Sept. 21.

Coach plans to announce first-quarter results Oct. 22.

For the year, it now expects earnings of at least $1.20, versus an average estimate of $1.15 per share among analysts, according to First Call. Sales should reach $835 million.

In addition, the company reported that it had repurchased and retired more than 1.9 million shares of common stock at an average cost of $25.89 thus far in the fiscal quarter. At the end of August, about $20 million remained available for future buybacks under a program that expires in September 2004.

“I am confident that our well-received new offerings, fueled by consistent product flow and a focused gift assortment, will ensure continued superior financial results through the important holiday quarter and into calendar 2003,” Frankfort said.

NEW YORK — Coach Inc., the maker of leather handbags and accessories, Tuesday raised its quarterly earnings forecast as strong sales and higher margins helped it rise above the weak retail environment.

New York-based Coach said it now expects earnings to be at least 21 cents a diluted share and sales to increase to between $185 million and $190 million for the first quarter ending Sept. 28. This compares with prior-year earnings of 14 cents a share and sales of $150.7 million. Analysts’ consensus estimates are currently 18 cents.

For the current quarter to date, Coach also said same-store sales are up 10 percent. Comparable-store sales also are up by a double-digit percentage in Japan, a key growth market for the company.

“The momentum that was evidenced throughout the spring has clearly continued into the first fiscal quarter in all businesses,” Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

He noted that, over the summer, consumers responded to Coach’s transitional handbag and accessories offerings as well as its just-introduced fall handbags in leather and suede combinations, including new styles of Hamptons.

The upbeat forecast helped elevate Coach shares $1.49, or 6.1 percent, to close at $26.12 in New York Stock Exchange trading Tuesday, even as the major indices declined precipitously. The stock has more than doubled since it slumped to its 52-week low of $10 on Sept. 21.

Coach plans to announce first-quarter results Oct. 22.

For the year, it now expects earnings of at least $1.20, versus an average estimate of $1.15 per share among analysts, according to First Call. Sales should reach $835 million.

In addition, the company reported that it had repurchased and retired more than 1.9 million shares of common stock at an average cost of $25.89 thus far in the fiscal quarter. At the end of August, about $20 million remained available for future buybacks under a program that expires in September 2004.

“I am confident that our well-received new offerings, fueled by consistent product flow and a focused gift assortment, will ensure continued superior financial results through the important holiday quarter and into calendar 2003,” Frankfort said.