What happened

Shares of Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) were moving higher today after the lifestyle brand posted strong comparable sales for its fourth quarter, and total sales that beat analyst estimates. As a result, the stock closed up 5.8% today.

So what

Urban said total net sales for the quarter grew 5.7% to $1.09 billion, edging out expectations at $1.08 billion. Comparable sales increased 4% in its retail segment, driven by double-digit growth in online sales, which outweighed negative store-based sales. All three of its major brands saw comps rise, with an 8% jump in Free People, 5% increase in Anthropologie, and 2% uptick at Urban Outfitters.

Three images of a model in different outfits

Image source: Urban Outfitters.

Wholesale revenue increased 6.3% in the quarter.

CEO Richard Hayne noted that the company's sales growth actually accelerated after the holiday season, saying, "Positive comps were driven primarily by stronger apparel sales with January registering particularly powerful year-over-year results."

Now what

Urban Outfitters' report comes after retailers broadly reported strong holiday sales, and is the first indication that that trend seemed to continue into the new year. Shares of the apparel and lifestyle company have now doubled since hitting bottom last summer as the company's financial performance has steadily improved, especially on the strength of the Free People brand.

Urban Outfitters will release its complete fourth-quarter earnings report on March 6, when investors will gain insight into how the strong sales growth affected the bottom line. Analysts are expecting a per-share profit of $0.62, up from $0.55 a year ago.

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