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What: Shares of fashionista True Religion (Nasdaq: TRLG ) were charging ahead today, gaining as much as 19% in intraday trading after the company announced fourth-quarter results.
So what: On an absolute basis, it was a pretty decent quarter for the seller of premium jeans. Sales jumped 19.5% to $111 million, from $93 million last year, but earnings per share only managed a 7% increase. However, both sales and EPS were ahead of Wall Street estimates. The company's direct-to-consumer segment was killing it during the quarter, registering 38% growth and same-store-sales growth of 7.2%. However, that was offset a bit by the company's wholesale segment -- which sells through department stores like Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN ) and Saks (NYSE: SKS ) -- which saw sales drop 11%.
Now what: What was a bit confusing about the market's reaction to True Religion's earnings is that the excitement over the stronger-than-expected quarter was able to hold up in the face of soft guidance. For 2011, the company projected $405 million in sales, just shy of analysts' estimates. However, EPS is seen coming in at $1.80, well below the $2.02 that Wall Street had estimated. Assuming we use adjusted 2010 per-share profit, $1.80 in 2011 EPS would represent the second year in a row that earnings per share fell. The company is still in a bit of a transition phase as it continues to increase its focus on its direct-to-consumer segment, and, to be sure, at less than 13 times adjusted 2010 EPS the stock is hardly expensive, but investors should probably be asking when higher sales will mean higher profits for them.
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