Reporting on its fiscal Q1 2021 results, VF (NYSE:VFC), the parent company of the Vans, Timberland, North Face, and JanSport brands, says its revenue fell by 48% and its adjusted loss per share came in at $0.57 -- yet it still managed to positively beat analyst consensus in both areas. The company also says its liquidity position and its digital sales initiatives offer a springboard to a successful recovery from the COVID-19 trough.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) losses of $0.68 per share, $0.11 worse than the actual figure of $0.57 loss per share. Net revenue came in at $1.076 billion, a marked drop from last year's $2.05 billion for the same quarter but still ahead of analyst forecasts of $971.8 million by approximately $104.5 million.

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VF even delivered better gross margin (54.1% actual, versus 53.5% predicted) and operating margin (a 21.9% loss, versus a predicted 29.5% deficit.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Rendle ascribed the company's better-than-expected results to "financial and operational rigor, the affinity consumers have for our iconic brands, and the progress we've made in recent years with our digital transformation." In fact, while revenue from direct-to-consumer sales dropped 37% during the quarter, digital revenue jumped 78% as consumers switched from brick-and-mortar shopping to online ordering.

VF's stock has not yet recovered to anywhere near its pre-pandemic levels, and the company said in its press release that it can't yet provide a financial outlook for its fiscal 2021. Nevertheless, it added, "second-quarter fiscal 2021 revenues are expected to be down less than 25% and full-year fiscal 2021 free cash flow is still expected to exceed $600 million."

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