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Carter's, Inc. Dresses Another Earnings Beat

By Steve Symington - Jul 29, 2015 at 9:26AM

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The children's clothes retailer just exceeded expectations for the eighth quarter in a row. Here's how.

As if trouncing Wall Street's expectations for the eighth consecutive quarter wasn't enough, Carter's (CRI 2.65%) also raised guidance for good measure this time around.

Specifically, for its fiscal second-quarter 2015, the children's clothing retailer saw revenue rise 6.7% year over year, to $612.8 million, including a $5.6 million negative impact resulting from continued foreign exchange headwinds. That translated to 17.2% growth in adjusted net income, to $38.8 million, and a 19.4% increase in earnings per share, to $0.73.

To explain the greater per-share growth, note that Carter's repurchased and retired another 346,325 shares of common stock during the quarter, for $34.8 million. As of yesterday's close, Carter's still had around $126 million remaining under its current repurchase authorization.

Analysts, on average, were anticipating Carter's would achieve revenue of $609.6 million and adjusted earnings of $0.69 per share. Carter's performance also stood above its own guidance provided with last quarter's solid report back in April, which called for earnings to be flat over the same year-ago period, at $0.61 per share, and for revenue to increase roughly 6%, to $608.5 million.

Digging deeper
"We continued to see strong demand for our brands in the second quarter with sales growth in all of our business segments," added Carter's CEO Michael Casey. "We're encouraged by our consumers' response to our new fall marketing and product offerings."

Carter's core retail segment saw sales rise 5.7% year over year, to $247 million. Driving those gains was direct-to-consumer (DTC) comparable-sales growth of 1.1%, comprised of continued strength online, with e-Commerce comparable-sales growth of 26.5%. This was partially offset by a continued 4% decline in brick-and-mortar retail store comps. Carter's also opened 13 new retail stores during the second quarter, bringing its total to 562.

OshKosh retail fared even better, with sales rising 8.8% year over year, to $73.5 million. Here again, OshKosh saw superior DTC comparable-sales growth of 3.3%, including even greater 36.2% growth in comps from e-Commerce, and a more modest 2.6% comparable-sales decline from retail stores.

Next, within the wholesale segment, Carter's enjoyed 5.8% growth in sales, to $211.7 million, thanks to a combination of strong demand, the start of a new playwear initiative, and consumers' favorable response to the aforementioned fall seasonal offerings.

The smaller OshKosh wholesale segment followed suit, with sales rising 22.8% year over year, to $14.3 million. Note, however, that outsized growth is mostly due to what the company described as "favorable timing of demand."

Finally, the company's international business achieved 8.4% growth in revenue, to $66.3 million, driven by Carter's DTC businesses in Canada, and higher wholesale demand in its remaining international markets. That includes a 0.2% increase in Canadian comparable-store sales, as well as the contribution from six new retail stores opened in Canada during the quarter, bringing Carter's total stores in the country to 133.

This international result was made all the more impressive considering the segment is still facing difficult year-over-year comparisons amid both continued foreign exchange headwinds, and the negative impact of Target Canada's bankruptcy this past January. Excluding just the former, Carter's international segment revenue would have climbed an even more impressive 17.5%.

Try the next size up
Carter's also offered a look at what to expect in both the current quarter and for full-year 2015. For the third quarter, Carter's anticipates net sales will rise 7% year over year, to roughly $854.9 million, while adjusted earnings per share should increase 10% to 15%, or to a per-share range of $1.40 to $1.46. Analysts were modeling higher third-quarter earnings of $1.47 per share, but lower revenue of $852.2 million.

Finally, for the full fiscal year 2015, Carter's projects net sales will rise 5% year over year, to around $3.03 billion, while adjusted earnings should increase roughly 12% to 15%, resulting in a new EPS guidance range of $4.40 to $4.52. While that revenue range represents a reiteration from Carter's guidance in April, the company's new earnings range is an increase from the its previous expectation for EPS growth of approximately 10% to 14%.

Given Carter's long-standing streak of under promising and over delivering, however, it should come as no surprise that Wall Street was already anticipating the raise: Going into today's report, consensus estimates called for even higher fiscal 2015 revenue and earnings of $3.05 billion and $4.56 per share, respectively.

At this point, it seems fair to say that Carter's has a good chance of once again beating both its own guidance, and that of Wall Street, when all is said and done in 2015. From a long-term investors' perspective, what matters is that the company's core business remains strong as it continues to steadily expand its footprint both online and with new physical locations. With that in mind -- and despite Carter's likely conservative guidance -- I think investors should be pleased with this solid quarter.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Carter's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Carter's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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