Polo Ralph Lauren Keeps Galloping

Considering that this is a transitional year for Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL  ) , the luxury-lifestyle company is putting up pretty good numbers. The market seems focused on a guidance reduction, but it's really nothing for investors to fret about, and it certainly didn't warrant sending the shares skidding by nearly 13% yesterday.

Earnings for the company's latest quarter rose 11%, to $0.82 a share, on a revenue increase of 12%. Guidance for this year was reduced from $3.70-$3.80 to $3.64-$3.74, but it was only to adjust for a new accounting standard related to income taxes. In other words, it had nothing to do with core operations.  

In fact, management has not changed its view on operating results, which are expected to remain strong. The consensus estimate was for $3.82 a share, but some analysts, apparently too focused on the guidance reduction, may not have been paying attention to what management had been saying. The company shouldn't be punished for that.

Polo's strength can be seen in its core wholesale and retail segments. Its wholesale business experienced a 17% increase in sales, despite facing additional challenges as retailers such as Macy's (NYSE: M  ) consolidate. Last year, though, wholesale represented 29% of sales, and to fight back, the company has launched new concepts such as the American Living collection, under the fledgling Global Brand Concepts. The retail business, meanwhile, experienced a 9% rise, and same-store sales rose a strong 7.4%.

This is considered an "investment year" as management integrates recent acquisitions and launches new businesses. Everyone should be pleased with results like these in such an environment. Moreover, Polo Ralph Lauren expects revenue growth in the mid-teens. Yes, earnings are expected to come in roughly flat to down, thanks in part to a non-cash amortization expense associated with purchase accounting from recent acquisitions. But given this company's solid brand name and reputation, fears over an earnings shortfall from higher income taxes are overblown. It won't be long before this horse is riding high again.

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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy wants a pony.


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