This, photo shows the Lululemon Athletica logo outside a store in Dedham, Mass. Lululemon Athletica Inc. reports earnings Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017Earns Lululemon Athletica, Dedham, USA - 05 Jun 2017

Lululemon Athletica is still performing. And men and international shoppers are just starting to get into the game.

The 20-year-old Canadian sports apparel and accessories maker, which began as a yoga company for women, has morphed into a billion-dollar ath-leisure and athletic empire for both men and women.

Company shares have nearly doubled year-to-date and Lululemon has set a revenue target of $4 billion by 2020. But some analysts think the company will reach its goal sooner.  

“At this point, they are the premium price point winner in this ath-leisure segment,” said John Kernan, managing director at Cowen. “It’s being worn for performance, for casual, for fashion. It checks all the boxes.”

The company released earnings Thursday after the market closed beating expectations on both top and bottom lines.  

Sales increased 21 percent during the quarter to $747.7 million, up from $619 million in 2017’s third quarter. Meanwhile, income was also up from $85.6 million last year to $135.9 million during 2018’s third quarter.

“There is nothing but opportunity,” Lululemon chief executive officer Calvin McDonald said on Thursday’s conference call. “We don’t need to create it, we just need to be part of it.”

Not surprisingly, Lululemon was one of the big winners during this year’s Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season, in terms of traffic and demand.

And while Lulu still has what Kernan described as a “feverishly loyal” fanbase among women in North America, men and international shoppers are major growth drivers.

“It’s an important part of the long-term story,” Kernan said and pointed out that about half of the physical store growth is happening outside of North America, in places like Asia and Europe.  

In fact, since 2017’s third quarter, Lulu has opened 20 brick-and-mortar stores outside of North America: 11 in Asia, seven in Europe and one each in Australia and New Zealand.

In China, “all the basis of what drove our business in North America is happening and accelerating,” McDonald said. 

Stuart Haselden, Lululemon’s chief operating officer, added that Lulu opened its first local market e-commerce site in South Korea and first store in Osaka, Japan.  

“All good signs of what the future holds for us across Asia,” he said.

Lululemon remains a luxury price point in the ath-leisure trend, charging more than $100 for a pair of pants. 

In addition to new stores, executives credited the company’s appeal to its product assortment. The Like Nothing bra — an anti-exercising bra released earlier this year — was a fan favorite.

And while women continue to make up about 80 percent of sales, according to Roxanne Meyer, managing director and senior retail analyst at MKM Partners, more men than ever are buying Lulu.

The ABC Pant, Commuter Pant and the Jogger pant, were some of men’s favorites, according to Haselden. 

“Men’s [apparel] continues to be an exciting growth story for us,” he said.

Lulu’s digital presence also continues to grow — about 25 percent of the total business during the quarter — as more consumers around the globe embrace what McDonald called “the sweat life.”

It’s the company’s ability to combine “quality and technical specs and fashion all in one makes Lulu increasingly feel like a value, not the brand that you’re paying up for,” Meyer said. “And that’s how they’re winning.”  

 

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