Why Ralph Lauren's Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of fashionista Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL  ) were bouncing around today, rising as much as 10% in early trading before watching that gain slim down to less than 4% as of this writing.

So what: It was Ralph Lauren's turn to report earnings today, and the results from the company's fiscal fourth quarter were pretty darn impressive. Sales for the quarter jumped 14% from last year to $1.6 billion, which was roughly in line with what Wall Street analysts were looking for. On the bottom line, a higher gross profit margin and a lower tax rate helped drive a 34% increase in earnings per share. The $0.99 in per-share earnings that the clothier reported was easily better than the $0.83 that analysts expected.

Now what: While the quarterly results helped drive investors to Ralph Lauren's shares, the company's outlook may have done a lot to moderate that excitement. The company's retail operations have been doing very well, but the wholesale business has been soft. For the full year, management sees "a low single-digit decline" in the wholesale division. In addition, the company is looking at Europe as a potential source of headwinds as the economic picture in that region continues to look grim.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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