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 Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (NASDAQ:ULTA) were looking rejuvenated today, gaining as much as 16% and finishing up 14% after turning in a strong first-quarter earnings report.

So what: The beauty-products and salon chain beat estimates across the board, and delivered robust growth in all three key revenue streams: organic same-store sales, e-commerce, and new stores. Earnings per share improved from $0.65 to $0.77, beating estimates of $0.74 as revenue jumped 22% to $713.8 million, topping expectations of $700 million. Same-store sales improved briskly, up 8.7% in the quarter, which includes a 72% jump in online revenue.  

Now what: Profit growth was slower than top-line growth as the company works on converting members of its loyalty program to ULTAmate rewards program, which forced gross margin lower by 50 basis points to 34.5%. For the current quarter, management expects earnings per share of $0.78-$0.83 against the Wall Street view of $0.82, but its revenue forecast of $706 million to $717 million was ahead of the consensus at $704 million. UIta shares are priced for growth, and the company has disappointed the market before with its financial results, but during a quarter where many retailers struggled, it bested expectations and appears to be firing on all cylinders, with an aggressive store expansion ensuring continued growth. With shares still trading at a relative discount, now may be a good time to get in.

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Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ulta Salon, Cosmetics, & Fragrance. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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