True Religion Apparel Inc. on Thursday posted a 7.9 percent gain in profits on a 19.5 percent rise in sales.

 

For the three months ended Dec. 31, income was $15.8 million, or 63 cents a diluted share, from $14.6 million, or 59 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales were $110.9 million from $92.8 million as same-store sales rose 7.2 percent for the 70 stores open at least one year.

 

By segment, U.S. consumer direct sales for its stores and e-commerce site jumped 38.4 percent to $62.5 million. International also excelled, gaining 29.2 percent to $18.9 million and driven by the transition to a joint venture in Germany and sales increases in Korea and the U.K. U.S. wholesale sales fell 10.9 percent to $28.1 million as the segment was impacted by a decline in the women’s premium denim market, while licensing revenue slipped 5.2 percent to $1.4 million.

 

“Fourth-quarter results were a reflection of the changing mix of our business model,” said Jeffrey Lubell, chairman, chief executive officer and chief merchant.  “In our international segment, our newly opened stores in Tokyo, London, Cologne and Toronto were well received, and the retail sell-through of our merchandise continues to be positive. This quarter’s international sales growth supports our decision to take more direct control of key markets in order to effectively manage the business for long-term success and capture the very large opportunities that exist for our brand.”

 

The company opened five U.S. stores iin the quarter, bringing the total store count to 94 at yearend, compared with 70 sites at the end of 2009. It also opened four stores in Japan, one in the U.K., one in Germany and one in Canada. True Religion said it plans to open 23 locations in 2011, with 15 sites in the U.S. and eight stores outside of the U.S.

 

The company said it expects net sales this year to be $405 million with EPS of $1.80.

 

For the year, earnings decreased 8.1 percent to $43.5 million, or $1.75 a diluted share, from $47.3 million, or $1.92, in 2009.

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