Premium denim apparel vendor True Religion Apparel Inc.’s 75.6 percent leap in third-quarter profits blew past analysts’ estimates and prompted an increase in its full-year guidance.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the jeans and sportswear marketer reported net income of $15.4 million, or 64 cents a diluted share, compared with $8.8 million, or 37 cents a share, in the same year-ago period. Net sales were up 63.9 percent to $79.4 million, from $48.4 million. Analysts polled by Yahoo expected earning per share of 47 cents on sales of $65.8 million.

By division, U.S. wholesale sales increased 53.8 percent to $46.3 million from $30.1 million a year earlier, while international sales grew 3.2 percent to $11.2 million from $10.9 million. Direct sales almost tripled to $21.5 million from $7.2 million.

Quarterly gross margins increased to 58.4 percent of sales, aided by the segment shift mix toward the company’s direct business, which was partly offset by increased sales of previous-season merchandise. The year-ago gross margin was 57.2 percent.

“Our financial position continued to strengthen as we ended the quarter with $55.8 million in cash and cash equivalents, and no debt,” said Jeffrey Lubell, chairman, chief executive officer and creative director. “We are especially pleased with our ability to help fund our growth through our strong operating cash flow.”

The company projected EPS to be $1.78 for the year, up from between $1.61 and $1.65, and for revenue to be about $265 million, up from $242 million. Analysts are looking for earnings of $1.65 on sales of $247.8 million.

For the nine months, the Vernon, Calif.-based firm posted a 67.3 percent increase in net income, to $31.7 million, or $1.31 cents a share, from $18.9 million, or 79 cents a share. Revenue grew 63.4 percent to $197 million from $120.5 million.

The firm;s U.S. sales rose 47.3 percent to $117.2 million, from $79.6 million, while international grew 24.1 percent, to $28 million, from $22.5 million. Direct sales almost tripled to just less than $51 million, from $17.8 million.

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